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Women in L&D Leadership: How Can We Close the Gender Gap For Good?

The gender gap has plagued women in all industries, but we’re seeing some interesting trends in L&D that are worth talking about. In the recently released Training Journal survey, it’s clear that while improvements are being made, there is still a lot of ground to cover to fully close that gap. Here’s what we learned about where women stand in L&D and what we can do to create positive change.

The Training Journal survey showed that while women are rising in the ranks of Learning & Development, they still face many challenges that directly influence their ability to succeed within the business training industry. First let’s discuss where women are doing well. Almost 70% of survey respondents were female, and within that group 30% worked as HR/L&D/OD Directors and 35% were HR/L&D/OD Managers. Those numbers are greater than national averages, showing that L&D is ahead of the curve in comparison to other industries. But is it enough?

Not according to the respondents themselves, who directly noted a lack of diversity to be a serious concern. Racial diversity in particular was noted by several respondents, especially at the managerial level. A lack of diversity of any kind is of concern because the industry should be reflective of the customer, the companies and trainees we work to help. Respondents said that businesses should be held responsible for creating wider cultural change when it comes to recruitment, and said that senior executives need to take the lead in embracing and encouraging greater racial and gender equality.

The survey revealed that one in four respondents said they had been discriminated against because of their gender and made note of how working mothers were still regularly penalized for having children. The issue of the pay gap is also front and center in the survey. These issues of equality in the workforce need to remain in the public light so that they can be addressed.

So, what can be done, you ask? Plenty.
1) Hire More Women into Leadership Roles

By reinforcing that women are successful in leadership roles, the L&D community will be better able to provide a more inclusive and diverse culture.

2) Provide Workers With More Flexibility

Both men and women can benefit from more workplace flexibility. Too often working women are forced to make the decision between their careers and their families just as many men are. By offering more flexible work schedules, remote work options, and paid family leave they will be better able to balance the needs of both responsibilities.

3) Negate the Pay Gap

Former Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, announced plans to tackle gender pay gaps by incentivizing large firms in the country to disclose staff data in order to create pressure to change. This isn’t the case here in the US, but by holding yourself and your competitors accountable, and by actively recognizing that women are worthy of equal pay for equal work, the pay gap may well become a thing of the past.  

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