(From UNC Kenan-Flagler) -- Nearly 50 years ago, The Personnel Administrator (the precursor to the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine) published the article, “Women at Work: One of the Most Controversial Issues of the Sixties,” by Dr. Daniel Kruger. The article examined the societal, labor and economic forces that were compelling women to join the workforce. As to why he wrote the article, Kruger noted that “our concern here is with the role of women in the labor force. We leave others to discuss the impact of working women on family life, mental health, juvenile delinquency and on society as a whole.” (SHRM, 2008).

The debate surrounding women in the workforce has shifted somewhat in 50 years, but it still continues. In 1964, women comprised nearly 40 percent of the U.S. labor force (up from 32 percent in 1948). Today, women make up 61 percent of the labor force and are attaining college-level degrees at a faster rate than their male counterparts [Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in U.S. Department of Commerce et al, 2011].

There are definite rewards for organizations that target women in their recruiting, development and retention efforts. A Thomson Reuters study found that organizations which are ahead of their peers in breaking the glass ceiling tend to have share prices that outperform their competitors, particularly in difficult market conditions (Chanavat, n.d.). And, a 2007 McKinsey study found that organizations with a higher percentage of women in top management positions had a 17 percent higher growth in stock prices and a 1.1 percent larger return on equity. Yet gaps persist between men and women in the workforce in terms of pay, career path, and leadership development.

A new whitepaper by UNC Kenan-Flagler, The New Business Imperative: Recruiting, Developing and Retaining Women in the Workplace

  • explores the changing role of women in the workplace and the business imperative to foster women’s roles in organizations
  • examines the persisting gap in female representation in leadership positions
  • looks at perception gaps found in a 2012 University of North Carolina (UNC) Leadership Survey of women and men in senior leadership roles on the effectiveness of organizations in recruiting, developing, and retaining female employees
  • offers HR and talent management professionals effective steps they can take to recruit, develop, and retain women in organizational leadership roles.

Read the whitepaper.