Reality Check: What's Wrong With This Picture?

The recently published Shriver Report lays out an argument that the workplace must catch up to the realities of today's workers and their families. So what's reality?

We are a nation of decision-making women -- the report notes that women make 80% of consumer buying decisions. Yet we still don't call the shots at work. As women approach 50% of the workforce, we languish at 15% of corporate boards, 16% of C-Suites, and 3% of CEOs. Women have long been 50% of mid-level managers and professionals, but they continue to lag in leadership and in compensation.

Catalyst's Bottom Line (my company) research shows that companies with more women in leadership and on boards, on average, financially outperform those with fewer. Three or more on the board, and results shoot up even more. Yet, Catalyst's recent study of the impact of the current recession reveals that MBA women in senior leadership positions were three times more likely to lose their jobs as compared to men.

As our workplaces become more female, our business leadership becomes more male. What's wrong with this picture? This is bad news for women, for companies that need their leadership, families who need their paychecks, and our economy which needs their stimulus.

When workplaces change, lives change. But workplaces won't change until women attain parity in leadership. Until then, they and their families will remain marginalized, and the economy will underperform.