Corporate ambitions to achieve gender parity often produce scattershot initiatives. It’s easy to see why: gender parity is a huge undertaking, with many dimensions—a challenge akin to urban planning—in which executives must re imagine their “city” and culture, put in place multi-year building plans, add infrastructure, and improve services. Our latest research suggests that leaders can cut through the complexity of the task by first establishing priorities linked with their organisations’ most pervasive talent-pipeline problems. 

More specifically, data we collected during 2015 (in collaboration with, from 30,000 employees at 118 North American companies across nine industries, show that many organisations are afflicted by one of three common pipeline pain points: women are unable to enter, stuck at the middle, or locked out of the top. Our hope is that if companies can recognize themselves in one of these patterns, they will be better able to target their gender initiatives. 

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