10 June 2019

Empowering Women in Leadership – some interesting insights

Harvest had the opportunity to partner with the Executive Institute by sponsoring their recent “Empowering Women in Leadership” Lunch in the Alex Hotel on the 29th of May, where 320 women (and some men) networked and relaxed, whilst listening to inspirational women share their stories on stage.

During the event, the Institute ran a poll of questions to get a pulse check on the experience and opinions of the audience; let me share some of the very interesting insights.

  • 30% of the audience attendees had a female CEO which is good news for the 30% club, but we know that there is a lot more work to be done here. However, according to the GEM Global Report 2018-2019, there is still a strong gender imbalance in business and business start-ups: “Worldwide, there are 7 women entrepreneurs for every 10 male entrepreneurs”. When I see this, it reminds me of Warren Buffet, when he referred to his success as being as result of the fact that he was only competing with 50% of the population
  • 55% of the attendees felt that their male colleagues progressed quicker than their female colleagues
  • When asked what the main barriers to female leadership were, the highest one at 75% was: “Women undersell their experience and capabilities”, which shows that the imposter syndrome is still well and truly alive. This barrier was followed closely by 64% who believe that women’s careers are slowed or disrupted by managing both work and family commitments
  • 71% believe that pay inequality exists between males and females with the same credentials. Not a positive for the attendees, but not a positive for organisations either, based on some insights from EY in Dec 2018: “Organisations where women hold nearly 30% of leadership positions could add up to 6% to their net margins”
  • The support of working parents seems to be increasing with 71% citing that there is paid maternity leave in their organisations and 16% who have a working mum phase-back programme
  • When asked what they would value most in terms of parental support, 90% cited ongoing working from home flexibility as being the most important, followed closely by paid maternity leave with 88% choosing it

There is no doubt that the position of women in business is changing but is it enough and is it fast enough? I was heartened to hear some of the research from Dr Paul Redmond, (@drpaulredmond) Director of Student Experience and Enhancement at the University of Liverpool at the recent Executive Institute Summit, when he was talking about motivating multi-generational workers. One of his conclusions was: “Anything that is in the world when you are born is normal and ordinary and is just part of the way the world works”

So, if the view and experience of our new arrivals is one of equality, then this should shape the future of women in business.

I have it on authority (from a three-year-old) that this may be the view, when I saw her argue with her mum when stating that Jasmine didn’t need to go on the magic carpet with Aladdin to see a whole new world. When asked by her Mum: “Why not?”, she replied, “She can go on her own”.

This article was written by Nicola O’Neill – connect with me on LinkedIn.

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