November 29, 2023

New Data About Women in the Workplace

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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Are you curious if your experience at work is normal? On this week’s episode I’m breaking down some of the biggest findings from the 2023 Women in Workplace report published by Leanin.Org and McKinsey and Company.

I’m also sharing how to interpret this information for the Pharma/Biotech industry and what this means about the opportunities available to you as well as what your biggest obstacles may be.

What you’ll learn:

  • An overview of the biggest takeaways from the 2023 Women in Workplace report
  • The critical stage in the talent pipeline where women get stuck without advancement
  • Why shattering the glass ceiling is an outdated goal
  • If concentrated goals to advance women into leadership roles really work

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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self-worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted, whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week, you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo. So you can run your career with ease. Rather than your career running you. You were born for more, and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up-level begins now.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast.

I’m so happy to be with you today. Last week, I had to re-release an older episode that is so relevant to right now and has gotten a ton of positive feedback. That was your first 90 days, which is what to focus on and how to approach starting a new job. Re-releasing that episode was strategic and necessary. It was strategic given the amount of job change right now. I know some of you are just starting to listen and haven’t had a chance to go back to those old days yet. The other reason is I had COVID and I’m still recovering. It’s not really surprising, but apparently, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. I went to Bravo-Con in Las Vegas in the beginning of November and unfortunately caught COVID along the way. But the good news is it wasn’t too bad and I’m here to tell you about it, recording new episodes for you just a week or so later. If you’re interested in Bravo-Con, let me give you a little bit of info on it because it was amazing. It was truly one of the best weekends of my life. Most of the TV that I watch is on Bravo, so I was in heaven being surrounded by pretty much every person I watch on TV.

There were selfies, conversations, spicy margaritas. It was so much fun. Plus, there were panels, which were pretty much like live reunions where they bring together people from the same show or crossovers from different shows to take questions from the audience or play games. There were these TV experiences where you could film the intros of your favorite shows like you were on them. It was just a bunch of silly fun. I don’t truthfully have a lot of hobbies. I read, I like to go to a good winery, I play board games with my family, I work because I love my job, and I spend time with my wife and family doing quality time and little activities. Right now, we’re getting close to the holidays, so it’s my favorite time to do all of the fun, that little wholesome holiday activities. But I don’t crotchet or play an instrument or play a sport or there isn’t a movie franchise like Star Wars that people get into and go all crazy about. I’ve never been to a con or a big event surrounded by something so fun like Bravo with thousands of others who also love it. I just found myself to be gitty.

I thought of recording a podcast when I was there at Bravo Con, responding to what people were saying on the panels. I even brought a travel mic to do this. But I did end up working at all. I was just really totally present and having so much fun, but it was exhausting. Think of a really good work conference that you’d go to for three days all day, but then the content is super exciting and engaging and you can’t get enough of it. This is what it was like. We walked 20 or 30,000 steps a day. We were up early out all day stimulated by these experiences and people and fun. We were exhausted for sure, which probably didn’t help our immune system. All right, so that’s probably enough about Bravo Con. But if you have any questions on it, you can send me a message on social. I’m totally happy to talk about it. It was so much fun. But let’s go ahead and get into this week’s episode, which is a breakdown of what came out of the Women in Workplace annual report. What is this report? It is a study of the experience of women in corporate America, and it’s done by and McKinsey & Company. Now, this report has been published annually for several years. The first one was in and the 2023 report was just recently published. Now, the study isn’t pharma biotech industry specific. We know, you and I know this, that the experience of women in our male-dominated industry is a little bit different. We can talk about that as we go through the key findings. But I did want to point out this isn’t an industry specific. It’s for all of corporate America. It covers 900 organizations that employ more than 23 million people. This isn’t a small study. Now, the main takeaway is that even with gains and improvement in the workplace around women’s experience and equality, women still remain underrepresented. It’s probably not a big surprise to you. We know that this is a problem. Now, it is worse for women of color who are even less represented in leadership roles. Now, the good news is that there has been some positive movement. There has been an increase in executive-level roles from 17% to 28% when you get to that VP and senior VP level. But there is a bigger problem, and that is that the progress of women advancement in the workplace is really slow in the middle.

There are less women moving into management and director roles. Now, what this tells us is that the pipeline to senior roles is fragile. Ideally, you’d have a full pipeline of qualified managers and directors ready to take on the upper levels. But if the entire pipeline isn’t moving, then those senior and executive levels will most likely be filled external to the company. Then since this report represents all industries, this lack of representation in the middle means that those roles will be more likely given to men, which is just going to set us backward. Some of the key findings is that women represent roughly one in four C-suite leaders, and women of color, just one in 16. We have a lot of work to do there. Women of color face the biggest reduction in representation from entry level to C-suite position. Not good. As they move up the pipeline, women of color’s representation drops by two-thirds. That is very problematic. Let’s talk about what the report says about ambition because I found this really interesting. If you look at what is pushed out on LinkedIn and some news articles, you’ll see headlines, especially since COVID, about women being burnt out and working from home and losing their ambition and drive for their career, which is simply not true.

Yes, there is burnout, and yes, as women, we take on a lot in our careers, but we are delivering, right? We are ambitious. We are creating even more change and the disruption in the industry that is needed. What the report found is that women are committed to their careers and equally as interested in being promoted as men at every stage of their career, from entry level to C-suite. Now, this doesn’t change if you work from home or you have a hybrid work schedule. So many of my clients desire a hybrid work schedule, and many tell me that flexibility is important to them and helps them produce at a higher level, not less. The report supported this and said that 1 in 5 women say that flexibility has helped them stay in their job or avoid reducing their hours. A large number of women who work hybrid or remotely say that they feel less fatigued and burnt out as a primary benefit of that. This is actually a win-win for everyone. The key findings around women’s ambition is that young women are especially ambitious. Nine in 10 women ages 30 and under want to be promoted to the next level, and three and four aspire to become senior leaders.

Women of color are even more ambitious than women overall. 96% say that their career is important to them, and 88% want to be promoted to the next level. Incredible. Now, let’s talk about another myth. Women need to shatter the glass ceiling. People talk about this a lot. A while back, I started changing the conversation into going beyond the glass ceiling. I have a whole coaching program aimed at getting women clear on what they want in their career and achieving it, changing the experience they have at work, and I named it Beyond the Ceiling. Because it’s not that women don’t ask for promotions, that they’re not ambitious, that they aren’t qualified for them, and that they just need to shatter the glass ceiling. That’s outdated. What the report found and supports is that for the ninth consecutive year, women’s biggest hurdle to advancement is at the first critical step up to manager. For every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager, 87 women are promoted. This gap is trending in the wrong way for women of color. This year, 73 women of color were promoted to manager for every 100 men down from 82 from women of color of last year.

It’s going in the wrong direction because women aren’t promoted at the same rate. They fall behind, and they’re always playing catchup, which is going to create a bigger gap when you get to those senior level manager or director roles. Now, they say that women are promoted based on their experience, and men are promoted based on their potential. This is an issue that exists just for women in the workplace that has been said for a long time. Part of the disruption strategy that I use with my clients is focusing on that potential piece, making it crystal clear how the promotion is a benefit to the company’s future and making you in that role a simple solution that they can’t afford not to take you up on. They need you for them to be successful. That is the key. Here are some key findings in this section of the report. In a typical company, men end up holding 60% of manager-level position, while women hold just 40%. As a result, there are fewer women to promote to director, and the number of women decreases at every subsequent level. The progress for early career Black women remains the furthest out of reach.

This year, for every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager positions, only 54 black women were promoted after rising to 82 in 2020 and 96 in 2021. Likely in response to a heightened focus on their advancement, the promotion rate for black women to manager has fallen back to lower than it was in 2019. What this tells us is with concentrated efforts, women can get ahead. But when those efforts fall to the wayside, so does the progress. It isn’t about promoting women to change metrics or promote women because they are women. You know this. This isn’t affirmative action. This is about being real about the bias that exists in the workplace and making a concentrated effort to overcome that bias and create an equitable and safe workplace for everyone. Not everyone is starting at the same place. You could look up on YouTube, there’s a video around bias that shows how based on your economic background, based on your race or the color of your skin, based on your gender, based on all of these different factors, you start at a different starting place when it comes to your opportunities and your advancement, especially at work.

White men are the front of that line. Then white women are going to be behind there and it’s going to go back and back and back. We’re not all starting at the same place, and so we have to consider that there is that bias and that there is more of an advantage for certain people. We need to be aware of that so that we can make better decisions and get more diversity and equity in the workplace, especially when we get to those manager and director and VP levels. We have made some effort, but we need to keep moving forward. As women, we need to avoid waiting for other people and companies to pave the way for us, to put systems in place that make it easier for us to be recognized. We can’t wait on that. We have to stop waiting for someone to realize that we are working too much and too hard and should be at a different level. It’s time to really rise up and play a different game. Putting your head down and working hard isn’t enough. Once you’re looking to get to management and beyond, you need a different approach.

The hill you are climbing is slanted. It is not straight, it is not easy, it is not paved for you. It’s got some rocks and some hills, but you can climb it. It’s my mission to help you make that path as easy as possible. If you want my help, reach out. There are really three ways that you can work with me outside of this podcast. You can join my email list, which is If you love my podcast, you’re going to love my emails. You’ll be the first to know about what is coming, get exclusive insights and tips and other fun bonuses that are exclusive to the VIP email insiders. Just add your name at that link, which will put in the show notes for you and you can unsubscribe whenever you want. I don’t know why you would want to, but if you ever wanted to, I will stop emailing you. You can unsubscribe. But until then, I will help you by sending you messages to your inbox every week. Now, if you want to learn more about Beyond the Ceiling, which is my group coaching program I mentioned earlier, then join the waitlist.

We’re enrolling again February 16th, 2024. You can learn more and add your name so you’re the first to know when it opens up and get your hands on any exclusive bonuses. You can do that at We’ll put that link in there for you also. If you’re looking for help right now, if you’re like, I want some high touch, personalized, private help right now. I don’t want to wait until February. I don’t want to be in a group. Then schedule a consultation for one-on-one coaching. From time to time, I take on new one-on-one clients, can schedule a consultation to learn more about my process, and we can determine if we’re a good fit to work together one-on-one. There is help available to you. All right, that is all for this week’s episode. Keep doing the work, keep fighting the fight, and know that you are meant for so much more than a good enough career. Even if the path to that is slanted or you’re starting farther behind, you can still get where you want to go, and we are going to disrupt this industry together. Let’s go. All right, I will talk to you next week.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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