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we explore the challenges posed by difference – by gender, generation, culture, and sexual orientation

RESEARCH & INSIGHTS

Through our research, we explore the challenges posed by difference – by gender, generation, culture, and sexual orientation – and map solutions for both individuals and their employers.

In particular, we aim to:

  • Affirm and bolster the business case for diversifying leadership
  • Identify, through robust research, the underlying impediments to the full utilization of the talent spectrum, identify the underlying impediments to the full utilization of the talent spectrum
  • Reveal the mechanisms by which inequities can be addressed
  • Harvest and share best practices across industry sectors.

Our research spans a variety of talent streams, industries and geographies.

  • TALENT STREAMS
  • INDUSTRIES
  • GEOGRAPHIES

Women

LGBT

Multicultural talent

Generations

Financial Services

Life sciences

Technology

Emerging Markets

Germany

Japan

United States

United Kingdom

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Harnessing the Power of the Purse: Female Investors and Global Opportunities for Growth

As more women become breadwinners and business owners who generate income and make financial decisions for their households, the power of the purse - and the market opportunity it represents - will grow exponentially. Yet this robust female market is startlingly untapped. CTI finds that tapping the power of the purse depends on correcting industry misperceptions about female investors and an industry tendency to perceive women as a monolithic market. Geography, generation, source of wealth, and asset level are all factors affecting how women perceive wealth and arrive at decisions about its allocation. In this report, CTI explores these nuances. (5/1/2014, Report - 116 pages)

KEY FINDINGSPRESS RELEASEINFO GRAPHIC VIDEO LINK

Sponsors: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS

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Athena 2.0: Accelerating Female Talent in Science, Engineering and Technology

In this report we revisit the science, engineering and tech landscape—expanded to include Brazil, China, India, as well as the U.S.—to determine what has changed for women for the better (since our 2008 report), and to offer solutions for what has resisted change. The good news: the pipeline of global female talent in SET remains rich and deep, with women being the majority of SET college graduates in many key geographies. (2/1/2014, Report - 72 pages)

KEY FINDINGSPRESS RELEASEINFO GRAPHIC VIDEO LINK

Sponsors: American Express, Boehringer Ingelheim USA, BP, Genentech, McKesson Corporation, Merck Serono, Schlumberger, Siemens AG

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On-Ramps and Up-Ramps India

Indian women on-ramp after taking a career break with much greater ease than their counterparts in the U.S., Germany and Japan, but Indian women find it more difficult to regain their career momentum (up-ramp). Building on the Center’s widely covered global work on “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps,” this study adds new fire to the ongoing debate about why highly qualified female talent take career breaks and the challenges they encounter when they try to accelerate their professional ambitions. (4/1/2013, Report - 71 pages)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

KEY FINDINGS

Sponsors: Citi, Genpact, Sodexo, Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever

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The Relationship You Need to Get Right

Sponsorship can help catapult junior talent into top management while also greatly expanding the reach and impact of senior leadership—but only when both sponsor and protégé recognize that it’s a mutually beneficial alliance, a truly two-way street. (10/1/2011, Harvard Business Review Article - 4 pages)

Sponsors: American Express, AT&T, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Freddie Mac, Genentech, Lloyds, Morgan Stanley

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Japan: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success

In 2005, our groundbreaking study “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” found that 37% of highly-qualified women in the U.S. take an off-ramp—voluntarily quitting their jobs for a period of time. To explore the global dimension of off-ramps and on-ramps, we conducted a “deep dive” into the Japan context. How many professional Japanese women leave their careers, and for how long? What are the main reasons for off-ramping? Are women “pulled” by their family responsibilities or “pushed” by male-dominated workplace cultures? In this report we investigate the challenges and opportunities faced by Japanese women, delve into the forces that impede women’s career progress, and lay out what can be done to help this highly qualified but under-leveraged talent pool thrive in a nation that faces severe skill shortages going forward. (11/1/2011, Report - 59 pages, also available in Japanese)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

Sponsors: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Cisco, Goldman Sachs

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The Battle for Female Talent in Brazil

Women enter the white-collar workforce in the UK in far greater numbers than men: 57 females for every 43 males. Yet as employees in large corporations move from entry-level to middle management, and from mid- to senior-level positions, men advance disproportionately. Women comprise almost a quarter (24 percent) of the “marzipan layer,” that talent-rich level right below the icing on the corporate cake. And there they stall out. For all their qualifications, women represent only 4 percent of CEOs and 6.6 percent of executive directors of the FTSE 100. In addition, women currently hold only 22 percent of seats in Parliament, putting the UK 54th among 189 countries with national parliaments. Why? Our research reveals a surprisingly simple answer: To break through to the top, well-qualified women need sponsors, powerful leaders who are willing to advocate for their next key role or promotion and propel and protect them through the perilous straits of upper management. Furthermore, in order to attract, win and retain such career-boosting backers, women must do their part to ensure the alliance remains mutually beneficial. (12/1/2011, Report - 61 pages)

Sponsors: Bloomberg LP, Booz & Company, Intel, Pfizer, Siemens AG

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Letzte Ausfahrt Babypause

This German Harvard Business Manager article reports highlights of the report "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Germany" (in German) (5/1/2010, Harvard Business Manager (Germany) article)

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Germany

Five years ago our groundbreaking study “Off -Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success” (see Harvard Business Review, March 2005), found that 37 percent of highly qualified women in the U.S. took an off-ramp—voluntarily leaving their jobs for a period of time. In addition, a large percentage took a scenic route—working part-time, reduced hours or flex-time for a number of years. All in all, more than two-thirds of the accomplished women who participated in this study failed to conjure up the linear lock-step progressions of a successful male career. For this they paid a huge price in terms of earning power and long-run promotional prospects. This research had tremendous impact. It was featured in hundreds of news articles around the world—coverage ran the gamut from the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal to the Hindustan Times and the South China Morning Post—and found its way into several high-profile books. “Off-ramps and on-ramps” entered the zeitgeist. If you Google this term these days, you’ll get over 1,280,000 hits. In response to this high level of interest, five years later we went into the field again to update the U.S. study (see “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Revisited,” Harvard Business Review, June 2010). We also decided to go global, taking the off-ramps and on-ramps research to key economies around the world. We started with Germany in 2009 and have plans to take the research to Japan in 2010. Other country studies will follow. (5/1/2010, Report - 74 pages, also available in German)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

Sponsors: Boehringer Ingelheim, Deutsche Bank, Siemens AG

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The Battle for Female Talent in Emerging Markets

With rolling debt crises blasting Western economies already weakened by the recession, hopes are resting on the BRICs—the emerging market dynamos of Brazil, Russia, India and China—to power countries and corporations back to growth. Keeping those engines humming is increasingly dependent on women. In the BRICs (which have accounted for 45% of global growth since 2007), female earnings are growing twice as fast as male earnings and women now control two-thirds of consumer spending. Most significantly, the majority of tertiary degrees in these countries now go to women. From Shanghai to Sao Paolo highly qualified, ambitious women are pouring into the labor market bringing urgency to the challenge of managing diversity. An important component of this study is an exploration of best practice in the private sector—12 cutting-edge initiatives that leverage the newly-rich pool of female talent. (5/1/2010, Harvard Business Review Article - 4 pages)

Sponsors: Bloomberg LP, Booz & Company, Intel, Pfizer, Siemens AG

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The Battle for Female Talent in China

Just as China is feeling the talent squeeze of rapid growth, Chinese women are emerging as a deeply qualified and ambitious talent pool, rivaling not only Chinese men but also their US counterparts. The study reveals the extent to which Chinese women are surpassing their peers, but also how they’re impacted by cultural traditions and demographic trends that are quite different from their female counterparts in other nations. They have a solid foothold in the high-echelon talent pool; they are enormously ambitious and passionate about their work; and they are playing an ever-larger role in the economic progress of their countries. Yet little attention has been paid to understanding this talent pool that is undoubtedly essential to the success of any player in the Chinese economy. An important component of this study is an exploration of best practice in the private sector—cutting-edge initiatives that leverage the newly-rich pool of female talent. (3/1/2010, Report - 70 pages, Key findings also available in Chinese)

Sponsors: Bloomberg LP, Booz & Company, Intel, Pfizer, Siemens AG

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Revisited

How much has the recession shaped women’s choice to take more circuitous career paths than men? Not a lot, it turns out. Our surveys from 2004 and 2009 yield surprisingly similar results. (12/1/2010, Harvard Business Review Article - 1 page)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

Sponsors: Cisco, Ernst & Young, The Moody’s Foundation

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Revisited

Five years ago our groundbreaking study “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” (see Harvard Business Review, March 2005) found that 37 percent of highly-qualified women take an off ramp--voluntarily leaving their jobs for a period of time. In addition, fully 66 percent take a scenic route--working flextime or part time for a number of years. All in all, nearly three-quarters of the accomplished women in this 2004 survey failed to conjure up the linear lock-step progression of a successful male career. For this they paid a huge price in terms of both earning power and long run promotional prospects. In the fall of 2009 we conducted a new survey--using the same questionnaire and sampling a similar pool of women--indeed, we were able to capture some of the same respondents. We discovered that the ground had shifted in some interesting ways. (6/1/2010, Report - 68 pages)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

Sponsors: Cisco, Ernst & Young, The Moody’s Foundation

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The Battle for Female Talent in India

As multinational corporations look to the developing market dynamo of India to power them out of the recession and debt crisis, women will comprise one of the main engines of growth. Educated women are pouring into the professional workforce. They have a solid foothold in the high-echelon talent pool; they are enormously ambitious and passionate about their work; and they are playing an ever-larger role in the economic progress of their countries. An important component of this study is an exploration of best practice in the private sector—cutting-edge initiatives that leverage the newly-rich pool of female talent. (12/1/2010, Report - 56 pages)

Sponsors: Bloomberg LP, Booz & Company, Intel, Pfizer, Siemens AG

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The Sponsor Effect: Breaking Through the Last Glass Ceiling

Women aren't making it to the top. Despite gains in middle and senior management, they hold just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. In the C-suite, they're outnumbered four to one. What's keeping women under the glass ceiling? High-performing women simply don't have the sponsorship they need to reach the top. Spearheaded by American Express, Deloitte, Intel, and Morgan Stanley, the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force launched a study in 2009 to determine the impact of sponsorship and why women fail to make better use of it. The study found that women underestimate the role sponsorship plays in their advancement. And those who do grasp its importance fail to cultivate it. It's also a classic catch-22: a woman's personal choices, whatever they may be, brand her as not quite leadership material. What will it take to promote sponsorship? In 2010, leading-edge companies are making relationships between sponsors and protegees safe and transparent. Much work remains. But companies that foster sponsorship of their standout women will gain a competitive advantage in talent markets the world over. (12/1/2010, Harvard Business Review Research Report - 77 pages)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

Sponsors: American Express, Deloitte, Intel, Morgan Stanley

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Stopping the Exodus of Women in Science

A new study reveals that U.S. companies face a troubling brain drain: Fifty-two percent of female scientists, engineers, and technologists abandon their chosen professions. If companies understand why women drop out, however, they can create targeted interventions and head off a talent shortage. (6/1/2008, Harvard Business Review article - 2 pages)

Sponsors: Alcoa, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer

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The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology

Forty-one percent of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders are female. But more than half (52%) drop out. Why? To better understand the scope and shape of female talent, the Athena Factor research project studied the career trajectories of women with SET credentials in the private sector. It found 5 powerful "antigens" in corporate cultures. Women in SET are marginalized by hostile macho cultures. Being the sole woman on a team or at a site can create isolation. Many women report mysterious career paths: fully 40% feel stalled. Systems of risk and reward in SET cultures can disadvantage women, who tend to be risk averse. Finally, SET jobs include extreme work pressures: they are unusually time intensive. Moreover, female attrition rates spike 10 years into a career. Women experience a perfect storm in their mid- to late thirties: They hit serious career hurdles precisely when family pressures intensify. Companies that step in with targeted support before this "fight or flight moment" may be able to lower the female attrition rate significantly. This study features 13 company initiatives that address this female brain drain. Some, for example, are designed to break down female isolation; others create on-ramps for women who want to return to work. These initiatives are likely to be "game changers": They will allow many more women to stay on track in SET careers. (6/1/2008, Harvard Business Review Research Report - 100 pages)

Sponsors: Alcoa, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer

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The Under-Leveraged Talent Pool: Women Technologists on Wall Street

Right now, a battle for survival has eclipsed the war for talent. Business leaders are slashing headcounts and budgets, and focusing with laser vision on what it takes to succeed in a deep global recession. But when the economy recovers, companies will return swiftly to the crucial work of recruiting and retaining top performers. Renewal and growth cannot be rekindled without high-octane brain power. Yet the value proposition is changing dramatically in a new era of talent management. Two dominant demographic cohorts—Gen Y and Baby Boomers—are redefining what it takes for a company to be an "employer of choice." The 78 million Boomers and 70 million Gen Ys crave flexibility, personal growth, connection, and opportunities to "give back." The Bookend Generations are remapping old ideals of success as they pursue a "Rewards Remix" that prizes meaning and choice over money. (12/1/2008, Report - 25 pages)

Sponsors: Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Merrill Lynch, NYSE Euronext

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success

Most professional women step off the career fast track at some point. With children to raise, elderly parents to care for, and other pulls on their time, these women are confronted with one off-ramp after another. When they feel pushed at the same time by long hours and unsatisfying work, the decision to leave becomes even easier. But woe to the woman who intends for that exit to be temporary. The on-ramps for professional women to get back on track are few and far between, the authors confirm. Their new survey research reveals for the first time the extent of the problem--what percentage of highly qualified women leave work and for how long, what obstacles they face coming back, and what price they pay for their time-outs. And what are the implications for corporate America? Off-Ramps and On-Ramps provides a proven road map to help companies stop the female brain drain, and to help women achieve their full potential with rewarding and balanced lives. (1/1/2007, Book, Harvard Business Press - 299 pages)

Please learn more about our consulting partner's, Hewlett Consulting Partners, offering on this topic.

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Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success

Most professional women step off the career fast track at some point. With children to raise, elderly parents to care for, and other pulls on their time, these women are confronted with one off-ramp after another. When they feel pushed at the same time by long hours and unsatisfying work, the decision to leave becomes even easier. But woe to the woman who intends for that exit to be temporary. The on-ramps for professional women to get back on track are few and far between, the authors confirm. Their new survey research reveals for the first time the extent of the problem--what percentage of highly qualified women leave work and for how long, what obstacles they face coming back, and what price they pay for their time-outs. And what are the implications for corporate America? One thing at least seems clear: As market and economic factors align in ways guaranteed to make talent constraints and skill shortages huge issues again, employers must learn to reverse this brain drain. Like it or not, large numbers of highly qualified, committed women need to take time out of the workplace. The trick is to help them maintain connections that will allow them to reenter the workforce without being marginalized for the rest of their lives. Strategies for building such connections include creating reduced-hour jobs, providing flexibility in the workday and in the arc of a career, removing the stigma of taking time off, refusing to burn bridges, offering outlets for altruism, and nurturing women's ambition. An HBR Special Report, available online at www.womenscareersreport.hbr.org, presents detailed findings of the survey. (5/1/2005, Harvard Business Review Article - 11 pages)

Sponsors: Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers

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The Hidden Brain Drain: Off-Ramps and On-Ramps in Women's Careers

Corporations have done a dismal job of retaining female talent. Indeed, they make it very easy for women to depart. When women take a temporary leave of absence to have children or deal with other personal matters, they find it difficult to return to work and contribute as they had previously. In essence, corporations provide women with many career off-ramps, but provide them with few on-ramps. This problem bodes badly for CEOs and top managers who view human resources as a critical asset. This research report, based on an extensive study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, a nonprofit research firm in New York City, provides the first comprehensive view of the forces behind the ongoing exodus of talented women from the workforce. The study identifies the reasons why women lose much of their earning power when they "off-ramp" and outlines the limited possibilities for finding on-ramps, or reentry points, for those wishing to re-enter. With in-depth case studies and dozens of charts and tables accompanied by insightful interpretations of the data, the report constitutes one of the most detailed looks at the hidden brain drain that will prevent companies from effectively competing in the incipient war for talent. Detailed findings of the research are the basis of this HBR Special Report. (Harvard Business Review, March 2005) (3/1/2005, Harvard Business Review Research Report - 140 pages)

Sponsors: Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers