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How Does Organizational Culture Affect Women in Business?

Christie Coplen recently joined Gentherm’s Women Network for a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace. In this video, she explores unconscious bias and ways organizations can become more inclusive. View the video or read the transcript below:

Video: Gentherm Women's Network


In a couple different studies, statistically if one of four is a diversity candidate, that diversity candidate has a zero percent chance of actually getting the job. Zero percent. One in four. At 50-50, you still have less than 50 percent, so it's about a 46 percent chance to be the placement.

At three-quarters of diverse candidates, it's still less than 75 percent. It's 67 percent. If you let that statistically kind of soak in, that's kind of mind-boggling, right? You have to think about what's driving that, and I think there's a lot of ways to address that, but the first step is awareness and understanding that there is an issue there.

There is unconscious bias. We're wired like that. It’s kind of innate in our survival skills and it's hardwired. That's how we process large batches of information. If we get into the Ph.D. level of it, if we think about how we deduce information, we are biased, and that's how we kind of make fast decisions.

But in a situation where you're trying to select the best candidate and be diversity-inclusive, you have to try to take the bias out of it. And 10 years ago, any orchestra setting was 95 percent male, and so what they started doing was auditions behind a screen, and they made the men and women take their shoes off. So you could not tell when someone walked on a stage whether it was a man or a woman that was coming out to audition. What has that driven? That has driven a 47 percent increase in females taking those positions versus men.

To me, that tells you that there's innately an issue, and it's not because we're egregious in it. I don't think we are actively knowingly not selecting the female or diverse candidate, but inherently, there is a bias that we have to start getting at.

On the other side, from a cultural perspective, I think comes to inclusion, so we have to be thinking about it, "How do we do it? How do we do it? How do measure?" Maybe it's less about how many women, but maybe it's more about how many people are on the slate? Do we have an equal mix? Are we looking at gender? Are we looking at all forms of diversity, and how do we make sure those ratios are intact from a filter perspective, that gets you to the right answer? There's more to be done, and we have to be addressing it.

And the other piece that I'll give is women have to be put into positions where they're taking additive roles, growth roles, specifically with P&L. Because what we see is there's a lot of functional routes up, such as marketing, HR, etc. But what they're missing is a small-scale P&L, which effectively will get you to the C-suite or the CEO role, and without that, you've effectively negated half the C-suite getting to a P&L, even if it's a small one. You've got to make the dent somewhere, and someone's got to give you that opportunity.

About the author
  • Christina Coplen

    Christie is a consultant in Spencer Stuart’s Industrial and Automotive practices, and a member of the firm’s Leadership Advisory Services team. She has extensive experience in digital and technology roles.