“Uncomfortable conversations are often necessary to identify the pragmatic actions that can improve a company’s odds of developing women leaders.”

February 04, 20151 minute read

— Lareina Yee, a principal in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Company, in an article entitled Fostering women leaders: A fitness test for your top team. In the article, she distills forward-leaning practices into five questions that can “generate the kinds of challenging conversations that executive teams around the world should be having.”

The questions she poses are:

1. Where are the women in our talent pipeline?
Yee says “surprisingly few senior executives keep precise track of how women do (or don’t) move through their talent pipelines—from entry all the way up to the top-executive ranks.”
2. What skills are we helping women build?
Examples of capabilities Yee says should be instilled by companies are resilience, grit and confidence.
3. Do we provide sponsors along with role models?
Yee believes it is one of the most basic commitments male leaders can make to help increase the number of talented women in their organizations.
4. Are we rooting out unconscious biases?
According to Yee, smart companies work hard to make unconscious biases more conscious and then to root them out so that they don’t affect the culture in wide-ranging and unhelpful ways.
5. How much are our policies helping?
Policies aimed at creating better environment for women include improving child leave policies, encouraging men to take paternity leave, and making sure employees use the family-friendly policies that are in place.