5th year

Women in the Workplace 2019

Five years in,
the path to equality
is clear

We see bright spots at senior levels.
But companies need to focus their efforts earlier in the pipeline to make real progress.

In the last five years, we’ve seen more women rise to the top levels of companies. Yet women continue to be underrepresented at every level. To change the numbers, companies need to focus on where the real problem is. We often talk about the “glass ceiling” that prevents women from reaching senior leadership positions. In reality, the biggest obstacle that women face is much earlier in the pipeline, at the first step up to manager. Fixing this “broken rung” is key to achieving parity.

To get to gender parity,
companies must fix the broken rung.

“Companies have the tools to [fix the
broken rung]. We know this because they are using them to crack the ‘glass ceiling,’ by increasing the percentage of women at the very top. Now it is time to extend those practices to the rest of the organization.”
– Kevin Sneader and Lareina Yee
Read McKinsey & Co.’s essay on WSJ.com
5th year

Women in the Workplace 2019

Women in the Workplace is the largest study of the state of women in corporate America. Based on five years of data from almost 600 companies, this year’s report features:

  • Data-driven recommendations for closing gender disparities in hiring and promotions
  • Findings on the practices that improve employee satisfaction and retention
  • A closer look at the experiences of women of color, LGBTQ women, and women with disabilities
Read the report

The importance of
opportunity and fairness
in the workplace

“Companies should do everything they can to make their workplaces more fair—starting with putting best practices in place to get bias out of hiring and promotions. When you take bias out of the equation, women will finally get the equal chance they’ve always deserved. Everyone will.”
– Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas
Read LeanIn.Org’s essay on WSJ.com

This is a critical moment

We can treat diversity like the business imperative it is, or we can treat it as an optional initiative. We can build on the progress we’ve made, or we can lose momentum. This year we’ve seen more bright spots than ever before. We know companies are committed. And the organizations that are doubling down on their diversity efforts are making real progress. We hope companies take this year’s report as a roadmap for change—and a call to action.

Read the report

Express interest in participating in the 2021 study

Additional Resources For Companies

To read more McKinsey perspectives on gender, diversity, and company practices, visit mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality

Lean In’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias program is a cardbased activity that highlights 50 specific examples backed recommendations for what to do. 95% of employees who’ve participated in the program say they are more committed to taking action. For more information or to access the free digital version of the program, visit leanin.org/50Ways

About the study

Women in the Workplace is the largest study of the state of women in corporate America. This year, we collected information from 329 participating organizations employing more than 13 million people and surveyed more than 68,500 employees to better understand their day-to-day work experiences. We were also able to look back at five years of data to see some powerful trends.

LeanIn.Org report authors and contributors:
Ali Bohrer, Jenna Bott, Kelen Caldwell, Maura Cheeks, Marianne Cooper, Chloe Hart, Ryan Hutson, Ellen Konar, Jordan Miller-Surratt, Ava Mohsenin, Mary Noble, Megan Rooney, Raena Saddler, Rachel Thomas, Kirsten Tidswell.

McKinsey & Company report authors and contributors:
Courtnay Buaas, Maggie Ferrill, Jess Huang, Shweta Joshi, Mekala Krishnan, Alexis Krivkovich, Kitty Kwan, Jill Lyon, Marie-Claude Nadeau, Morgan Paull, Ishanaa Rambachan, Alex Rohrbach, Nick Rosener, Aparna Singh, Martin Slosarik, Irina Starikova, Kendall Titus, Tijana Trkulja, Lareina Yee, Andrew Yoo, Delia Zanoschi, Alice Zhao.


We would like to thank Getty Images for providing the photography from the Lean In Collection used in this report and website.

We would also like to thank the 329 companies and more than 68,500 employees who participated in this year’s study. By sharing their information and insights, they’ve given us new visibility into the state of women in the workplace and the steps companies can take to achieve gender equality.

In particular, we appreciate the help of our external partners convening participants in their respective industries: Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA); The Equity Collaborative, a program of the Carol Emmott Foundation; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Health Evolution; Massachusetts High Technology Council; Press Forward; SEMI Foundation; Women’s Foodservice Forum;
Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (WNET)