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Five key gender diversity metrics

October 28, 2022

Amid the urgent need for gender parity in the global labor force, many companies face the challenge of closing the gap without clear data on the diversity of their talent pipeline or their workforce over time.

As a result, they aren’t able to accurately identify problems or launch targeted interventions to solve them. A report published by BCG shows that leaders need to know how big the problem is and what is causing it. 

According to the authors, companies need to establish clear and appropriate metrics regarding the recruitment, retention, advancement, and representation of women among both business units and support functions—alongside equal pay. They need to focus on the right interventions and measure their progress over time. “Most important, the leadership team—starting with the CEO—needs to be accountable for results. Given the performance improvements that a balanced workforce can create, gender diversity is not simply an HR issue; it’s a board-level issue”, said Katie Abouzahr, Matt Krentz, Lauren Van Der Kolk, and Nadjia Yousif.

They listed five metrics that organizations need to look at when it comes to gender diversity: 


“First, companies need to assess pay levels in order to ensure that men and women in the same roles earn the same pay. This applies not only to base salaries and wages but also to discretionary pay, such as signing bonuses and annual bonuses.”


“Next, companies need to make sure that they are recruiting a strong pipeline of women. The ratio of men to women should be tracked along the entire recruiting funnel—among people applying for positions, receiving interviews, advancing to final rounds, and being hired.”


“Companies need to know the percentages of women and men at each level of seniority, and they need to track the attrition rate among women and men at each level in order to identify where in the organization the ladder is broken. Indeed, our research shows that more women cited retention (36%) and advancement (45%) as the key issues.”


“Retention ensures that women do not leave. Advancement ensures that they are promoted into leadership positions. In addition to monitoring the representation of women at the top, companies need to measure the percentage promoted each year as a share of the total cohort and compare that to the promotion rates of men.”


“Finally, companies should make sure that women who do make it up the ranks are not concentrated in administrative roles such as HR or marketing but are fairly represented in—and are proportionately leading—operational units. For example, according to a report by the accounting and advisory firm Grant Thornton, the largest proportion of women in leadership roles is in HR (23%), compared with just 9% in COO positions. At tech companies, according to a 2017 study by the market research firm TechEmergence, 60% of chief HR officers and 50% of chief marketing officers were women, compared with just 13% of CEOs and less than 10% of chief technology officers. Understanding this dynamic—and correcting for it—is a key part of the solution.”

Source: Boston Consulting Group