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75% of Women Say Diversity Programs Are Not Working

Businesswoman on street looking at phone, at nightBusinesswoman on street looking at phone, at night

While companies often trot out their diversity initiatives as proof that they’re making strides toward greater inclusivity, many employees—and particularly female employees—aren’t convinced.

In fact, roughly three out of four women feel that such programs to do not make a difference, according to a new report from The Boston Consulting Group. A full 91% of women interviewed for the report (a total of 17,500 employees participate), said they knew about the gender-diversity initiatives offered at their company, yet only 27% said they have benefitted from them.

Female respondents were also relatively skeptical about the support offered to women as they move up the ranks. When asked if their company offers support for women from executives and middle managers, 72% of male respondents said yes, compared with only 54% of women.

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“Given that the leadership teams at most companies are predominantly male, those differences can lead to a misallocation of resources,” said Matt Krentz, a senior partner at BCG and coauthor of the report in a statement. “Instead, it’s important for leaders to understand which investments can have the greatest impact.”

When it comes to diversity programs, some measures are more effective than others, according to female employees. The study founds that increasing visibility of female role models to inspire women at lower levels in the company, empowering men to support diversity, and providing support for women returning from maternity leave are among the most effective ways to promote gender equity.