When mentorship or other sponsorship programs are offered through the workplace, women are less inclined to take advantage of them than men, according to a recent Edward Jones study.
The study, “Beyond Leaning In: Americans Not Taking Advantage of Career Advancement Programs in Place,” was conducted by ORC International and surveyed more than 1,000 Americans. Even though 82% of people said that they would take advantage of career advancement opportunities, only 21% of men and 18% of women actually utilized the programs when they were available.
“The lack of formal mentorship or sponsorship programs in the workplace is a serious issue, particularly in financial services, which has traditionally lacked female representation,” said Elizabeth Schehl, director of financial advisor diversity and female performance at Edward Jones, in a statement.
Schehl also says that a part of challenge is lack of awareness or lack of access. “We found that when we initially rolled out our support programs, there was lower participation because the women didn’t realize the programs existed,” she told ThinkAdvisor in an email. “We created them but had not done a great job of communicating their purpose or value.”
Women represent 18% of the firm’s 13,000 financial advisors, and 6% are “diverse,” or minority, advisors, according to Edward Jones. By comparison, the broker-dealer industry average is 16% women and 8% “diverse” individuals, according to a 2011 report on workplace diversity by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association cited in the statement.
The study also found that there are still gender hurdles for women in the workplace. Ninety percent of Americans surveyed by ORC believed that gender played a big part in career advancement. They believed that mentorship programs were necessary to correct the gap for women to advance in the workplace.
“There have been instances where some women have admitted to feeling intimidated in male-dominated programs and environments, thus they participate less and do not share their perspectives and opinions,” Schehl said.