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New Visier Report Finds Women Much Less Likely to Succeed Male Executives in Leadership Roles

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As cracks in glass ceiling start to appear, Visier’s report shows more progress is needed to close the gender gap in upper management roles

Visier, the recognized leader in people analytics, today announced the findings from its “Visier Insights™: Cracks in the Glass Ceiling” report. Supported by Visier People® benchmark data, with over 10 Million employee records, the report focuses on the movement of men and women into management roles, specifically looking at the gender disparity in hiring, internal movement, and succession planning.

The findings uncover the dynamics of gender replacement during hiring and internal movement, and how these activities contribute to ensuring equitable female representation on leadership teams. In the report, Visier findings reveal that women are much less likely to succeed a male than men are to succeed a female in upper management, despite the fact that females are replacing males at higher rates in lower management levels. 

“It’s been proven that empowering women to pursue leadership roles sparks greater economic growth, productivity, innovation and trust at organizations across the globe,” said Lexy Martin, Head of Research at Visier. “While our findings show some promising progress towards gender equality in the workplace, we need to see a greater increase in women replacing men in leadership roles to truly move the needle. To break the glass ceiling that continues to hinder women’s growth, leaders need to approach improvement as they would any business imperative.”

Key findings from the report include: 

  • There are cracks, but the glass ceiling isn’t shattered yet


    – In 19 organizations analyzed by Visier, 27 women left their vice president or senior director/director roles. 52% percent of this group were replaced by women, while 48% were replaced by men. In the same organizations, 579 men left their vice president or senior director/director roles. 75% percent were replaced by men while 25% were replaced by women – a finding that shows men typically fill vacant senior management roles previously held by a man. 


  • Gender equality is improving at lower management levels


    – Visier found statistical evidence that females are moving upwards in replacing males, especially in lower management roles, indicating upcoming cracks in the glass ceiling. Visier compared the state of replacees in 44 organizations between March and June of 2020 to the past three years, and found that since the beginning of March, females have replaced males and females at higher rates than in 2016-2019. From 2017-2019, 8,109 men left their manager positions. Of them, 28% were replaced by women and 72% were replaced by men. Between March and June 2020, 656 men left their manager positions. Of them, 35% were replaced by women and 65% were replaced by men. The percentage of females replacing males increased by 25% over this time period, marking a significant change in closing the gender gap within corporations.

In addition to the quantitative findings, Visier’s report recommends three data-driven steps organizations should take to showcase the importance of promoting female equality as a company-wide initiative to their CEOs. To see real change in female representation, organizations should create a comprehensive D&I strategy supported with data, apply data across the employee lifecycle and hold employees accountable for breaking barriers.

“Shattering the glass ceiling has been a core issue for decades, but it doesn’t have to be with the right leadership and approach,” said Martin. “Establishing a data-driven plan for improving gender equality in leadership roles and ensuring your CEO is onboard with the improvement agenda is critical. Our report arms organizations with the insights needed to elevate more women on their staff to management roles.”

To access the full report, click here. For more information on Visier, visit: http://www.visier.com.