When it comes to women’s professional advancement, the term “glass ceiling” is often used to represent the barrier to her reaching the upper echelons of her field. However, the difficulty in women’s ascent in the workplace begins on a much lower level, much earlier in her career, according to a new report and research from LeanIn.org and McKinsey. The research gathered data and insights since 2015 from nearly 600 companies, as well as surveyed over a quarter million people on their workplace experiences.

It’s the manager level that’s the turning point for women at work. Will women be promoted to manager at the same rate as their male co-workers or not? Right now, they’re not. According to the report, for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired.

This setback – referred to as the “broked rung” – affects the trajectory of womens’ careers. “This early inequality has a long-term impact on the talent pipeline [because] there are significantly fewer women to hire or promote to senior managers,” notes the report.

The researchers recommend that companies set goals for representation of women in first-level management, as well as hiring and promotions. Hiring and promotions should also take diversity into question, among other things.

“Repairing the broken rung is the key to creating significantly more leadership opportunities for women,” said Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, in a press release. “Taking this single action can have an outsized impact. Over the next 5 years, this can add 1 million additional women managers.”

Other notable findings

The positive

  • 24% increase of representation of women at the C-suite
  • 13% increase in companies’ commitment to gender diversity
  • 30% increase in the flexibility to work from home

The negative

  • 5% decrease of representation of women at the managerial level
  • 5% decrease of representation of women of color
  • No real change in microaggressions towards women

Bright spots

Today, 44% of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% in 2015.

More women are becoming senior leaders – and many of these senior-level women are being promoted on average at a higher rate than men.

Originally published on Ladders.

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