Women Remain Underrepresented in Staffing Leadership Roles
Washington DC – December 4, 2023 – Women comprise the majority of internal workforces in US staffing firms, but remain underrepresented at the executive, c-suite, and board levels. This is according to data from the third gender equity benchmark survey led by the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) with support from the American Staffing Association (ASA), National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS), Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), and TechServe Alliance.
“This is our third year to publish this landmark survey measuring gender equity progress across the staffing industry,” said Kip Wright, WBC board member. “The survey shows both incremental progress while still making it clear that more needs to be done to open doors to leadership roles for women in staffing.”
The WBC created a dynamic dashboard to view survey results, WBC Benchmark Survey on Gender Equity in the Staffing Industry. Survey data with SIA analysis is available on SIA’s website as a complimentary report, “Insights on Gender Parity in the US Staffing Industry 2023.”
“Although progress is slow, the staffing industry does perform better than the broader world of work. Organizations should use this data as a catalyst for continued improvement,” said Ursula Williams, chief operating officer for SIA. “Our research continues to show gender equity is so much more than an initiative; it is a vital demand necessary in every corner of the staffing industry. Empowering women in staffing leadership unlocks diverse perspectives, fosters innovation, and establishes a more dynamic and progressive approach for the industry and society overall.”
Women remain highly important and visible in the US staffing industry according to this year’s survey. The 2023 WBC Benchmark Survey showed that women comprised a median 66% of staffing firm internal staff, on par with 2022. However, they represented only half of executive positions and just 33% of board seats, the latter representing a drop of 3% year-over-year.
“This survey underscores the positive standing of our industry compared to others, highlighting strong representation of women. However, it also reveals a stark contrast within our c-suites, where gender parity for women is lacking,” said Teresa Delibert, NAPS chair. “The findings emphasize the collective journey towards achieving gender equity and fair pay in the staffing industry, as well as across various sectors. Despite optimistic timelines expressed by respondents, realizing these expectations will require a substantial effort. As the chairperson for NAPS, I take pride in our commitment to equity and inclusion. I encourage organizations to leverage this data as a catalyst for positive change, steering us in the right direction towards a more inclusive future.”
The study featured additional key findings:
- Women accounted for 36% of staffing firm founders and 40% of CEO positions. Commercial staffing had the highest representation at 37%, followed by healthcare staffing at 36%.
- When the founder of the company was a woman, 84% of CEOs were female. Conversely, only 17% of CEOs were female if the founder of the staffing firm was male.
- Interestingly, staffing firms with a female CEO received a very positive Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 83, compared to an NPS of 47 for the staffing firms with a male CEO. However, other factors could be at play.
- Staffing companies with female CEOs scored higher employee satisfaction in all areas recorded. Female CEOs scored, on average, 87% in meeting their staffs’ expectations compared to 77% if the staffing company CEO was male.
- DE&I and well-being rank low in concerns and priorities based on study data. New business development ranked as the most pressing concern/priority at 68% of respondents.
- Only half of survey respondents measure, track, and analyze pay equity in their organization. Men are significantly more optimistic than women about gender and ethnic pay equity.
The persistent underrepresentation of women at the leadership levels is a stark reminder that our industry must continue its efforts to be more proactive and intentional toward creating equal opportunities. Tracking and measuring pay equity within a staffing firm is critical to achieving this goal,” said Susan Donohoe, chief of staff and chief program officer at TechServe Alliance. “Promoting gender diversity in the C-suite is not just a matter of social responsibility; it is a strategic business imperative that can positively impact a company’s performance, culture, and long-term sustainability. We have an opportunity here as an industry to strive for better and foster an environment where women can thrive and contribute at every level.”
ASA is hosting industry thought leaders on a webinar to explore the issue of gender equity in the staffing industry by reviewing some of the key findings from the WBC’s third benchmark survey. Registration is open for the webinar, “A Panel Discussion on Gender Equity in the Staffing Industry,” taking place Thursday, Dec. 14 at 2 pm eastern time.
“Women need access to more opportunities to thrive in staffing. Conversations like the upcoming webinar are vital to keeping the topic of developing future women leaders in staffing front and center in our industry,” said Joanie Bily, chair of ASA. “I’m proud to serve as chair of the American Staffing Association, an organization whose board has achieved gender parity. ASA will continue to help women staffing leaders receive the support they need to reach their full career potentials.”
This is the third gender equity benchmark survey issued in conjunction with the Women Business Collaborative and the four major staffing industry organizations. Distributed widely to senior executives across the staffing sector, the 2023 survey included over 600 separate responses.
Survey questions ranged from the composition of board, CEO, and executive roles, to the underlying gender-related demographics of the business. It was developed to facilitate the publication of the survey in a dynamic dashboard that would allow readers to view differing dimensions of each answer based on those underlying demographics. The resulting survey results are both rich in content and revealing in their results.
About The Women Business Collaborative (WBC)
The Women Business Collaborative is an unprecedented alliance of over 60 women’s business organizations collaborating together to accelerate the pace of change. We are also a movement of millions of executives, business organizations, public and private companies, and the media. We accelerate change through collaboration, advocacy, action, and accountability. Learn more by visiting wbcollaborative.org.
About the American Staffing Association (ASA)
The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit americanstaffing.net.
About the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS)
Since 1961, NAPS has been a leading industry educator in the United States. As the oldest association representing the search, recruiting and staffing industry, NAPS offers the longest and most comprehensive history of professional credentialing in the industry. NAPS continues to maintain the esteemed position as the industry educator through its certification program, continuing education initiatives, monthly Lunch & Learn webinars, eNewsletters and its annual conference. For more information on NAPS, visit www.naps360.org.
About Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA)
SIA is the global research and advisory firm focused on staffing and workforce solutions. Our proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labor. Known for our award-winning content, data, support tools, publications, executive conferences and events, we help both suppliers and buyers of workforce solutions make better-informed decisions that improve business results and minimize risk. Visit www.staffingindustry.com for more information.
About TechServe Alliance
TechServe Alliance is the premier organization dedicated to advancing the IT & engineering staffing and solutions industry and driving the success of its members and clients. TechServe is singularly focused on driving the success of IT & engineering staffing and solutions firms through innovative programs and services, access to proprietary industry research and data, a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration and promoting fair business practices. Learn more by visiting www.techservealliance.org.