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Why Coaching Can Mend The Broken Rung

Imagine the scene, a female lead as the mysterious and stealthy hero on the hunt for justice for all humankind… Hair tightly bound at the nape of her neck, dressed in all black, with lithe legs and arms, pivoting amongst trash cans. She bounds down the street, her innate strengths and developed instincts tell her someone […]

Imagine the scene, a female lead as the mysterious and stealthy hero on the hunt for justice for all humankind…

Hair tightly bound at the nape of her neck, dressed in all black, with lithe legs and arms, pivoting amongst trash cans. She bounds down the street, her innate strengths and developed instincts tell her someone is in trouble. She races toward the danger and sees two masked individuals scale the side of the building with the help of the fire escape ladder, up and over it’s rooftop, and out of sight. Screams can be heard-she knows she must make it to the top and knows THIS is what she has been created for.

As she jumps for the fire escape ladder she tumbles to the ground. “What just happened?!”  

She tries again, having seen the masked individuals use it with ease. She jumps higher this time thinking she must have just missed the first rung. She races, leaps in the air, clamoring for a stronghold only to fall painfully on her side.

She lies on the ground, crumpled and bewildered trying to comprehend why the rungs of the ladder won’t carry her to the top. She is defeated and hopeless.

The Women in the Workplace Study of 2019 has been released and with some staggering statistics surrounding entry-level /first-level management positions for women, this has been deemed the “Broken Rung.”

According to the WITW study, women at every level are still underrepresented. However, there has been an increase from 17 to 21% of women elevated to the C-Suite. This is a positive stride in the right direction, although parity still exists. A deeper focus needs to continue in efforts toward breaking the “glass ceiling” of the executive/C Suite but also to fill the pipeline with entry and mid-level women and to mend the “broken rung” of partiality.

For every 100 men hired and promoted to manager, 72 women are hired and promoted. 

“For many companies, diversity efforts in hiring and promotions are focused at senior levels, and we’re encouraged by the gains that we’re seeing in senior leadership. Now companies need to apply the same rigor to addressing the broken rung. Fixing it will set off a positive chain reaction across the entire pipeline. As more women become managers, there will be more women to promote and hire at each subsequent level. Put another way, more entry-level women will rise to management, and more women in management will rise to senior leadership.”

The break in the rung leads to women being stuck at entry-level. Statistics confirm this, men carry 62 percent of manager-level roles, women hold just 38 percent.

There is however hope with help from senior leaders and HR professionals. The authors of the study suggest:

  1. Setting a goal for placing more women in first-level management
  2. Require diverse slates for hiring and promotions
  3. Place evaluators through unconscious bias training
  4. Establish clear evaluation criteria
  5. Place more women in line for manager

Goal setting with a foundation in diversity and inclusion as well as other steps to mend the broken rung can and will have positive effects, as will focused importance on the need for providing sponsorships and mentoring.  

Professional coaching can and should partner with organizations in creating these plans, allowing for a diverse and open discussion. As well as providing access to entry-level employees to strengthen their leadership skills. However, internal and external coaching has traditionally and still remains to be an option for executive leaders only.

Interestingly enough, many reports have included statistics on employees stating a “toxic” work environment. Women in the Workplace study also suggests creating a safe and respectful workplace culture is key in all diversity and inclusion efforts. Engaging an external coach can provide women with how to’s successfully navigate a frustrating workplace situation and hone her skills for entry into the manager role.

Leveraging professional coaching will increase a woman’s ability to attract growth in her professional life by facing the negative effects of the “broken rung”, toxic workplace culture, and lack of flex time and not only allows for healing from the broken rung but also from the conversation gap.  

In research from Bravely Inc., a human-resources startup, employees who fail to “confront their situation head-on often [take] their negative attitudes elsewhere,” including reviews on Glassdoor.

There is more to simply augmenting hiring practices surrounding women, by offering coaching to all employees at all levels this will foster an environment for learning, development, and recognition in the woman’s efforts in achieving the manager role.  

As the coaching industry grows in popularity, there is an increase in ascertaining the coach’s efficacy, standards of practice and more. Discovering a coach’s practice, credentials, community advocacy, and client testimonials can aid in hiring. A successful coaching relationship is driven by an enthusiasm to learn and grow by the client with clearly established objectives, benchmarks, and the sincere accountability from a trained professional.

More women should work with a coach in dealing with the negative effects of the broken rung but also in developing her leadership, navigate toxic work environments, and create her very own safe and secure work culture.

Every woman should be able to bound up the wall, grasp the rung, and climb to the top. 

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