A recent Financial Times report indicates that despite a near 50-50 gender split between women and men for overall staff positions in the City, there are only 19.5% of senior City roles occupied by women. The report goes on to say that it’s worse in the banking sector with less than 16.2% of the managing director level occupied by women. Taken a step further, of those 16.2% the majority are foreign women not native British. The numbers from the 2011 British government- appointed commission for “Women on Boards” appear to be better, going from 12.5% in 2011 to 23% today, but that has been driven by non-executive appointments – so the positions are not actually responsible for running companies.
How is this still the case given the mentoring initiatives, Executive Coaching support, and Women in Leadership programmes, diversity and inclusion focuses and helpful maternity policies now in place? Many organizations have committed to improve these statistics and many people acknowledge improvement is needed, so what is the barrier? These are some of the theories:
– Some say it starts with education: instruction in mixed gender classrooms impacting girls’ confidence, lower uptake of maths and science by girls,
– Female confidence and/or personalities holding them back (sticky floor theory)
– Entrenched hiring practices and prejudices such as senior men hiring men similar to themselves (glass ceiling theory)
– Gender pay gap – not worth doing the same work and maybe more effort to overcome prejudices for less pay
– Maternity and primary child carer restrictions especially on careers involving extensive travel
It would be great to pinpoint ‘the cause’ however the cause is likely to be some or all of the above. Some, luckily few, say diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be taking up so much time and that it is hyped by the media. However, for companies that want to excel I believe the effort is worth it:
– A Credit Suisse analysis shows organizations with more women in senior positions have better financial results.
– When you make a workplace better for women you make it better for everyone – it would be great to have equal uptake of the new paternity rules that come into effect in April in the UK.
– Most, if not all companies, have innovation as a key strategy or objective – innovation by definition is making changes, developing something new. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have new and different perspectives from different, diverse individuals to develop or find new services, processes, ideas or product?
What is your role in achieving diversity or inclusion within your organization?
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