December 14, 2018

The Roundup: Exec gender gap research, LinkedIn’s 2019 big ideas, and workers want more than perks

Are efforts to close the gender gap in corporate leadership stalling?

New research reveals that women account for less than 5% of CEO positions in the U.S. and Europe.

Per the Financial Times, “The study by Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, found that women held 4.9 per cent of the top roles across 13 countries, with female representation in the chief executive position ranging from 6.9 per cent in the US to zero in Denmark and Italy.”

Heidrick’s vice-chairman of its global CEO and board practice Anne Lim O’Brien said that while the executive gender gap may be improving, it’s moving at a very slow pace.

According to the Times, the Heidrick report also explores chief executives’ routes to their leadership positions, “finding that their average age on appointment is 50, two-thirds were internal appointments and almost half held a C-suite role before their elevation.”

What’s trending in 2019?

LinkedIn has released its Big Ideas for 2019 – a list of 50 predictions and trends for the coming year, collected from consultation with CEOs, academics, economists, and other big thinkers. Here are some of the trends that will have an impact on employers and HR leaders:

  • Gen Z in the spotlight: In 2019, there will be five generations working together (which Dell CEO Michael Dell writes about in a separate post), as Gen Z enters the workforce in droves. For employers, the key will be understanding this generation’s work ethic, and what they look for long-term from a potential employer.
  • AI will become pervasive: We’ll move from simply talking about and hyping AI to seeing it become integrated into our day-to-day lives. “Six of the 15 hot emerging jobs of the past year relate to AI, while AI skills are the fastest-growing on our platform, up 190% globally from 2015 to 2017,” LinkedIn senior editor-at-large Isabelle Roughol writes.
  • Soft skills will matter more: With more tech integration, there will be a greater focus on the skills that can’t be automated, such as creativity, oral communication, and leadership. In fact, LinkedIn notes that some of the fastest-growing skills gaps are related to soft skills. With this in mind, employers who want to make the most of their employees should look after them as whole people, not just task performers, says Susan Cain, author of Quiet and CEO of Quiet Revolution.
  • CEOs will prioritize creating more inclusive workplaces: We’re at a critical mass with conversations about diversity and inclusion – and executive leaders will have to act, or leave. Carla Harris, vice chairman and managing director at Morgan Stanley, says that more leaders will look for development or guidance on collaboration and innovation.
  • Companies will hire for an “ecosystem” mindset: Duke University professor Sanyin Siang says that companies will shift how they hire, to think more about “second- and third- and fourth-order effects” – that is, roles that enable “organizational survival and continuity.” So, companies will look outside of traditional linear thinking and think about hiring people who help boost company well-being, or are great mentors and team builders.

Employees want more than free snacks and comfy couches

The Wall Street Journal reports that to appeal to top talent in a tight labor market, employers need to offer more than free snacks and fun times.

Related: Why employees leave their jobs – and how you can get them to stay

They’re going to have to go deeper. What will distinguish the most profitable companies from the rest in the coming year…will be whether leaders foster a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, like their jobs and trust their managers to help them move on to a better one.

In short, employees are looking for trust and motivation, great managers, and organizations where they can carve out a long-term future.

Per the WSJ:

The most profitable companies are actively cultivating current workers to fill future openings, according to a recent study of 1,220 employers by Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. The top 13% of companies in the study were five times as likely to develop and promote insiders in a systematic way, and three times as likely to retain top talent, than the lowest-performing companies. They also posted 30% higher profit per employee, the study shows.

This means that employers will need to look more closely at their career planning and development offerings. Companies cited in the WSJ article offer programs like job rotation, and invest in teaching problem-solving and innovation skills. They’ll also need to look more closely at how to better foster cultures of inclusion and innovation – in short, creating environments in which employees feel a sense of belonging, where they feel challenged to do their best work.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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