Knowledge Center

As companies strive to tackle the shortage of executive talent, maximize human capital with fewer resources, and maintain business success, it is essential that they understand the vulnerability of talent management systems to gender biases and stereotypes. This report reveals that core components of talent management are linked in ways that disadvantage women, creating a vicious cycle in which men continually dominate executive positions. Based on an assessment of 110 talent management systems representing 19 industries, the data demonstrate that the flow of information from senior leaders to individual contributors perpetuates gender gaps in senior leadership. To combat this issue, organizational approaches for identifying, developing, and leveraging top talent are provided.

The study involved gathering data on and analyzing the content and themes from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 30 talent management experts and architects from 24 companies; examination of hundreds of pages of talent management materials; and an online online survey completed by 86 corporations and firms. The data revealed:

  • Senior leaders’ influence on the talent management process can yield new senior leaders who mirror the traits and biases of the senior leadership team that promoted them—a vicious cycle.
  • Gender bias in tools and procedures can inhibit the establishment of inclusive and effective talent management programs.
  • When organizations fail to integrate checks and balances that guard against the introduction of gender bias into talent management systems, they make the process vulnerable to gender stereotyping and hinder opportunities for women’s advancement.

Partnering Sponsors: Dickstein Shapiro LLP, Ernst & Young


Additional Information

Gerald Lema, Corporate Vice President & President, Asia Pacific, Baxter International Inc. provides advice for employers. Click the image below to watch the video.