Unlocking the full potential of women in the U.S. economy Special Report produced exclusively for The Wall Street Journal Executive Task Force for Women In The Economy 2011
Unlocking the full potential of women in the U.S. economy Women have been a growing factor in the success of the U.S. economy since the 1970s. Indeed, the additional productive power of women entering the workforce from 1970 until today accounts for about a quarter of current GDP. Still, the full potential of women in the workforce has yet to be tapped. As the U.S. struggles to sustain historic GDP growth rates, it is critically important to bring more women into the workforce and fully deploy high-skill women to drive productivity improvement.
McKinsey & Company undertook this research over the past three months to understand how women contribute to the U.S. economy; how their work benefits individual corporations; what prevents women from making greater contributions to their companies; and what approaches can help companies unlock the full potential of women.
Creating the conditions to unlock the full potential of women and achieve our economic goals is a complex and difficult challenge. At a macro level, there is significant potential to raise the labor participation rates of women across the country. At a corporate level, where many high-skill women are employed, the opportunity is to continue to advance women into leadership positions where they can make the greatest contributions. Despite the sincere efforts of major corporations, the proportion of women falls quickly as you look higher in the corporate hierarchy. Overall, this picture has not improved for years.
We believe, however, that there is an opportunity to make substantial progress in developing and advancing women on the path to leadership. Companies have become very good at recruiting women—many major corporations recruit their “fair