News & Insights about Closing the Leadership Gender Gap


 New Call-to-actionWe recently asked our cracker-jack researcher Lara Feghaly to decode the 10 most substantive articles on confidence that she could find. And to do the same with the book The Confidence Code.

What she discovered is startling and crucial for women's career advancement. And we've turned it into an infographic for you.

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Topics: The Missing 33%, Career

Wonderful Career Success Story!

We get mail...and love to share it in the hopes that it inspires you, as it does us.

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Topics: The Missing 33%, Career

4 Most Important Leadership Behaviors & The Missing 33%™

We love McKinsey's research. Their recent article, Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters identifies 4 key leadership behaviors that correlate most strongly with leadership effectiveness.

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Topics: The Missing 33%

Leading Women's Uncommon Advice is Going Global

Closing the Leadership Gender Gap

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Topics: Closing the Gender Gap, The Missing 33%, Leadership, Breakthrough Leadership Featuring Susan Colantuono's Talk on Closing The Leadership Gender Gap

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Topics: Closing the Gender Gap, The Missing 33%, Leadership, Career, TED

9 Reasons Companies Aren't Closing The Leadership Gender Gap

Last week we released our updated research entitled Closing The Leadership Gender Gap: The Missing 33%TM and Conventional Advice to Women.

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Topics: Talent Development, Closing the Gender Gap, The Missing 33%, Diversity & Inclusion

News & Tips on Women's Advancement & More

Keep your eyes open for our colorful "white" paper on women's advancement. In the meantime, did you see these?

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Topics: Talent Development, Closing the Gender Gap, Gender Dynamics, The Missing 33%

News & Tips on Women's Advancement & More

Spotting (and Developing) Leaders!

Thanks to Nneka C. who last month pointed us to the HBR article on 21st Century Talent Spotting because of the alignment between the model in one of the sidebars and Leading Women's definition of leadership. For over 14 years, we've been defining leadership as "using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others."

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Topics: Talent Development, Closing the Gender Gap, The Missing 33%

Diversity Executive Interview

Susan L. Colantuono is the CEO of Leading Women, a consulting firm working to close the leadership gender gap. She founded and ran the Women's Institute for Leadership at Bryant University from 2002 to 2010, and is the author of No Ceiling, No Walls Colantuono recently spoke with Diversity Executive magazine. Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

Can you describe the missing 33 percent of a woman's professional background that keeps her from reaching the top?

As women move up, we get to a point where future opportunities rest on our perceived potential for leading the business, not just leading the people. When determining whether a woman can lead the business, executives look for business, strategic and financial acumen. This is what I call the missing 33 percent of the career success equation for women — not because women don't or can't have business, strategic and financial acumen, but because very few women are clearly told how essential these skills are for reaching the top.

Why are women missing this element in their professional development? 

Women receive career success guidelines from three primary sources: formal performance appraisals and talent development systems, formal or informal mentoring/coaching and other informal sources, including all the conventional sources of career success advice in women's books (for example, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg), articles and other media. None of these gives proportional weight to the advice that to get ahead you have to have proven and perceived business, strategic and financial acumen. 

Women are constantly coached on confidence and leadership — why do mentors think they need these more than business acumen and financial proficiency? 

Coaching or mentoring on confidence and leadership is important. As a matter of fact, business, strategic and financial acumen enable women to fulfill my definition of leadership — "Leadership is using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others.” There are other reasons why mentors are more likely to coach women on confidence and interpersonal and team skills. For most executives, the importance of business, strategic and financial is a given. It doesn’t cross their minds that women are interested in, need and are not getting these skills. Another reason is that very few mentoring or coaching curricula prepare mentors or coaches to address these areas. And a third is that instead of stressing women’s capabilities, much of the writing about women and careers focuses on our deficits — we need to be more confident, to negotiate better, to self-promote more.

Does this mean women should ignore advice about confidence and leadership?

It's important for women to exhibit confidence — and there's no stronger platform for confidence than a complete understanding of your business and how you contribute to key outcomes. This is true whether you're leading as an individual contributor, supervisor, manager or executive.

 What can HR leaders do to effect a change in this important development area?

HR plays a very important role in four ways. First, ensure that your performance management system appropriately weights business, strategic and financial acumen as they are demonstrated at each level. Second, ensure that your leadership model doesn't overemphasize engaging others or personal greatness at the expense of business attributes. Third, if you sponsor a formal mentoring program, help the proteges look for mentoring on the business of the business, and not just on confidence-building or career advice. Fourth, our research indicates that men are more likely to informally mentor men on the missing 33 percent, so it's important to provide education on the gender dynamics that create barriers for women.

Can you describe in an example or anecdote what you mean by business acumen?

An individual contributor who had to deliver a project update heard about the missing 33 percent and decided that she wanted to report on the financial impact of her project — something that none of her peers had ever done. She asked to meet with a manager from the finance department to help her calculate the financial impact and wove the numbers into her update. Her peers appreciated the scientific content she was reporting on, but she got praise from her managers about the story she told by using the numbers.

In addition to the example of the scientist, here's one of my favorites — I call it knowing your positional purpose. If the CEO sat next to you at lunch and asked, "What do I pay you to do around here?" someone in HR without business acumen might answer, "I’m a recruiter in HR." Someone with business acumen would answer, “You pay me to drive top-line growth by filling the sales openings in our new market."

Mary Camille Izlar is a former editorial intern at Diversity Executive magazine. She can be reached at

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Topics: The Missing 33%

Make the Most of Mentoring: Drucker Loves CAKE!

PIE MentoringIn Dan Rockwell's recent blog revealing Peter Drucker's 9 Functions of a Mentor, Rockwell lists 9 things a mentor should do. I wondered if he and, by extension, famed leadership theorist Drucker, were offering up CAKE or PIE Mentoring™ ideas.

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Topics: The Missing 33%, Mentoring

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