Research Briefs from ION
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Founded in 2004, ION is a national consortium and stakeholder organization whose mission is to increase the number of women appointed to corporate boards and to executive officer positions.

ION's Member Organizations represent the 28 million women in management and professional roles across the nation. ION is the only confederation of regional organizations in the US engaged in this work. To learn more about ION, go to

PwC Research: Senior Women May Be Best Leaders for "Wicked" Problems

PwC UK collaborated with Harthill Consulting earlier this year to identify the leadership capabilities needed to transform organizations in the face of financial uncertainty and a less predictable world. Their report argues that operational experience alone will no longer guarantee success as a leader in the face of "wicked" problems that challenge the notion of business-as-usual, and they reference a "how we make sense of the world" framework called Action Logics to discuss what current leaders may find challenging and what "Strategists" have to offer when transformational leadership is needed.  

Interestingly, PwC reported that the highest concentration of Strategists was found among the women profiled by Harthill (10% of the women were categorized as Strategists vs. 7% of the men) - no real surprise given that the capabilities of Strategists are closely aligned with the strengths many women bring to the table.
Current leaders may:
  • be overconfident 
  • lack empathy for others
  • be inflexible
  • downplay uncertainty
  • not see need for personal growth
Strategists can:
  • see multiple perspectives
  • move between vision and detail
  • detach self from actions
  • use multiple forms of power
  • lead with vulnerability and courage
Work environments that support the development of Strategists are characterized by distributed leadership and collective problem-solving, and they are places where employees can bring their whole selves to work and where self-reflection is encouraged - characteristics that also make it easier for women to grow and be successful inside organizations. Traditional management structures, however, often force Strategists to operate outside of organizations as consultants and advisors, where they can work cross-functionally and with flexibility.

The challenge, according to PwC, is that transformational change must be led and supported from inside the organization in order to succeed. The report finishes with ten ways to create a culture where Strategists can be developed and retained. 

PwC UK. (2015). The hidden talent: Ten ways to identify and retain transformational leaders.
More on Action Logics:  Rooke & Torbert. (04/2005). Seven Transformations of Leadership. Harvard Business Review.

Federal Reserve Bank of NYC Reports on Compensation Differences for Female CEOs 

Economists at the Federal Reserve of NY have released preliminary findings from a study on the gender pay gap in executive compensation. Their analysis identified three differences in the structure of compensation packages for male and female executives that continue to put women at a disadvantage - even at the top.
  • Incentive pay made up a smaller percentage of total compensation for women relative to men. 
  • Compensation for female executives was less pay-performance sensitive relative to men. 
  • Female executives were more likely to suffer the consequences of bad firm performance and less likely to benefit from positive firm performance relative to their male counterparts.
How big were the numbers? The table below shows some of the differences the researchers found in total compensation for men and women based on changes in the value of the organization.  
  Change in Total Compensation for Men for Women
  $1 million increase in firm value $17,150 increase $1,670 increase
  1% increase in firm value 44% increase 13% increase
  1% decrease in firm value 33% decrease 63% decrease

Federal Reserve of NY: Incentive Pay and Gender Compensation Gaps for Top Executives (August 2015)

Gallup Research: Numbers are Small but Differences are Stark

Gallup has updated its research on perceptions of equity in the workplace, and while the percentages of women and men who believe their gender has negatively impacted their advancement and pay are relatively small, the magnitude of the differences between men and women is stark.
  • More than twice as likely: 12 % of women believe they have been passed over for a promotion or opportunity at work because of their gender vs. 5% of men.
  • Over four times as likely: 17% of women feel they have been denied a raise as a result of their gender vs. 4% of men.
  • Half as likely: only 20% of women report that they are completely satisfied with the amount of money they earn vs. 44% of men.
Where were women and men in agreement?
  • 59% of men and 56% of women indicated that career advancement was extremely or very important to them.
Gallup: Working Women Still Lag Men in Perceptions of Workplace Equality (09/02/15)
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