These are the excuses Australian women get when they don't get a promotion

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The pace of promotion toward a leadership role is slower for women than men in corporate Australia, according to the latest research.

Almost 60% of men were promoted twice or more in the past five years compared with only 41% of women, says a report by Bain and Company and the group Chief Executive Women, based on a survey of nearly 4,500 from Australian business.

And the gap in promotion rates only increases with seniority.

The report — Advancing Women in Australia: Eliminating bias in feedback and promotions — says there’s is significant room for improvement.

Less than half of the female respondents (45%) felt their organisation is meritocratic. Men are more positive at 61%.

The report highlights key differences in performance and career feedback.

Women are:

  • Twice as likely as men to be told that they need to display “more confidence” to be ready for promotion.
  • A third more likely than men to be told that they need “more experience” to be ready for promotion.
  • Less likely than men to receive clear feedback on what they need to do to be ready for promotion.

“Merit should be assessed on performance and potential,” said Kathryn Fagg, president of Chief Executive Women.

“However, defining who has merit and who does not can be open to subjectivity and bias, particularly in evaluating potential.

“And if we continue to define merit as people ‘like us’ who have done what we did, we will get more of the same.”

She says the fact that women are told to show “more confidence” and to get “more experience” to be ready for promotion may reflect a bias that women are somehow perceived to be more risky appointments.

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