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July 2017
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Lack of career conversations impedes women's success.

A recent study by Right Management highlights the "illusion of progress" women have made in the global business landscape.

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Women have made strides in some respects—for instance, the percentage of women on large company boards in Europe has almost doubled during the past five years, to 25 percent. However, they still "face a triple threat: underrepresentation in industries poised for growth, overrepresentation in roles threatened by automation and stubbornly low levels of women in senior roles," reports the study.

In particular, the study found that a lack of career conversations between women and their managers has a detrimental effect on their career progress. Those conversations help answer key questions about employees' working lives, such as "How am I doing?" "What's next for me?" and "What and how should I develop?" According to the study, only one in five female leaders has ongoing career conversations with her manager.

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Career conversations, the study reveals, would align women's goals more closely with those of their organizations, helping them gain recognition and senior-level positions. In fact, of the 4,400 study participants (of which half were women) many reported that regular career conversations would help them be more engaged (82 percent), share ideas more freely (78 percent), and be more likely to stay with their current employer (75 percent).

Women also tend to be "over mentored and under sponsored." According to the study, 84 percent have not identified a sponsor within their organization. While the difference between a mentor and a sponsor is subtle, sponsors focus on developing talent and getting people promoted. They "create a culture of conscious inclusion and consciously advocate for women in the boardroom." The study found that forward-thinking companies incorporate sponsorship into their talent and organizational strategy by equipping senior leaders to identify and nurture high-potential employees.

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About the Author
Caroline Coppel is an associate editor for ATD Press.
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