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Another wasted year
Despite the Government setting a target of 33% women in leadership roles at FTSE 350 companies by 2020, and despite a flow of formal reviews, The fourth consecutive report, Women Count, produced by Pipeline shows there has been little to no progress. This independent report of the FTSE 350 has found that:
- Only 3.7% of companies have female CEOs – and this is down from 4.6% two years ago
- More than 85% of companies have no women executives on their main boards#
- Only 9% of executive directors on main boards are women, unchanged since 2017
- A mere 17.1% of executive committee members are women, a tiny increase of just 0.8% since 2018
- One in five companies have no female members of their executive committees at all
- At the current rate of progress, it will be almost 2090 before executive committees achieve gender balance#
- Just 5% of executive committee positions are held by women in roles with profit and loss2 (P&L) responsibility
- More than half of FTSE 350 companies have no women on their executive committees in a P&L role at all
- This situation is replicated on the main indices of major economies across the world, with India and Germany having no women CEOs at all, while China, Hong Kong, the USA, Spain and France have only one each
The fact is that many FTSE 350 companies are failing to offer talented women access to key executive positions as such opportunities continue to be given automatically to men.
Why does this matter?
Evidence shows that the failure to draw on a wider pool of ability actually damages the companies themselves. Those FTSE 350 companies with 25% or more women on their executive committees last year achieved an average 16% net profit margin3 while those with no women achieved just 6%. P&L roles are the pipeline for future CEOs and if women are blocked at that stage then they will not get the chance to run companies and companies will not get the chance to benefit from their broader talent pool.
Why don’t companies address the problems of gender imbalance?
Where there are already women at the top of companies, the evidence shows they are much better at progressing other female talent. Research reveals that women CEOs have twice the average number of women in executive positions than their male counterparts, and FTSE 350 companies led by women have an average of seven times more female executives on their main board than those led by men.
It is hard not to conclude that where men are in charge, they tend not to want to let go of their grip and allow women a share of the action.
6 Key Facts
1: Business performance is maximised when they promote women
2: Women on executive committees
3: It’s not just about numbers, the type of role matters
4: Female leaders succeed at progressing all talent, where male CEOs fail
5: Company boards remain a male executive preserve
6: Across the globe, it’s still a man’s world
- MAKE IT THE CEO’s RESPONSIBILITY
- ESTABLISH HARD TARGETS
- TRANSPARENCY IS KEY
2 in 5 employees in the UK plan to improve their mental health by moving to a company with flexible working
Nearly 40% of people who have flexible working state it has given marked improvements in their mental health, Wildgoose survey finds.
Wildgoose − experts in team building and workforce morale − conducted a survey of workers aged 45 or under to ask their thoughts on flexible working. Employees from 114 companies from all backgrounds gave their answers anonymously. The results highlight the importance of flexible workplaces when it comes to the mental health of employees.
14.3% of employees not currently allowed to work flexibly indicated that they are actively considering a career move to an organisation that would offer them flexible working. This figure rises to 21% of parents in the same situation.
With 62% of employees taking days off in the past year for mental health reasons, many employers want to do more to support mental health in the workplace. Flexible working is well publicised, though employers should start by understanding why their employees want flexible working for a better work/life balance.
Selecting the personal and professional reasons for their company to start offering flexible working as a way to improve employee lifestyle, the majority of respondents stated that it would help maintain a good work-life balance (70%). Second most prevalent reason was being reassured if an urgent situation arose, it could be resolved without affecting work (53%), followed by feeling as sense of value and trust from the employer (43%)
The findings of the survey highlight the importance of work/life balance and how crucial it is for employers to keep up with this demand, or risk losing staff.
The Wildgoose survey results show some eye-opening stats, which include:
Benefits for mental health:
- 39% of the people surveyed who work flexibly see a noticeable improvement in their mental health
- The benefit of flexible working that 70% were most grateful for was it provides them with a good work-life balance. This is something that a similar number (69%) of those without flexible working crave.
Benefits for working parents:
- 68% of parents (who can work flexibly) feel it’s vitally important in helping them to juggle both work and family life.
- 51% of those without flexible working want the ability in order to ease childcare pressures.
Reasons to make immediate corporate change:
- 30.4% of those who do currently work flexibly cannot work without it and would leave their job were this taken away from them.
- 42.9% of people who currently don’t have access to flexible working, suggested that having the ability to do so would allow them to maintain or even boost their productivity levels.
Looking at the results of this survey, it has become crucial that companies recognise the rapidly changing workplace and the value of flexible working. It’s not just good for employees’ mental health − it makes good business sense.
Commenting on the survey findings Jonny Edser, Founder and Managing Director of Wildgoose said:
The results from our survey highlight the real benefits that adopting flexible working can offer to both employees and employers. At Wildgoose, we understand that everyone has a life outside of work that doesn’t always fit around the typical 9-5. Trusting your employees to work at times that suit them is fundamental to maintaining productivity and employee wellbeing. If companies value the contribution their staff bring to the table, then giving them the freedom to flex their working hours is a no-brainer when it comes to keeping them.
Workforce health and business sense…
For most companies the two main costs are staff (including staff desk space) and property. Flexible working will allow companies to increase their bottom line by making savings on desk space and rent.
In making sure that no more than 60% of its staff are in at one time, Lambeth Council says it saves millions of pounds in property running costs per year. While just under 60% of Barclays staff work flexibly with those who do expressing greater job satisfaction.
Harriet Shurville, People Director at McCann London, states:
Flexible working is gradually becoming common practice rather than a nice-to-have, for businesses in every sector. This is great news, considering the benefits it brings to businesses and their people. With this research now revealing around 14% of employees would consider leaving their job over not being offered flexible working, and 30% saying they would leave if it was taken away from them, the potential loss for businesses is hard to ignore.
Until formal procedure is adopted, there are a number of ways that employers can provide flexible-style working from core hours. It’s imperative if businesses are going to attract and retain best-in-class talent. At McCann, we have introduced a number of measures such as working from home, a day off for your birthday and Summer Fridays from June to August, so everyone gets to leave the office early and enjoy a long weekend in the sun.
It’s about what managers and leaders do everyday
The catalyst for elevating women in organisations comes down to what managers and leaders do every day according to a new study published by talent development and transition company Lee Hecht Harrison. The daily behaviours of the people managers who are known champions of female talent have the greatest impact on an organisation’s ability to get and keep women in their leadership pipelines.
The new study from LHH points to the frustration organisations are experiencing in their ability to address this issue and highlights what’s required to create the inclusive workplaces needed for women to advance. The findings show that 58% of companies believed advancing women is a critical business issue yet 76% of those organisations were unsatisfied with their ability to demonstrate the individual actions, organisational practices and cultural attributes that cultivate gender diversity and elevate women in leadership.
The top five behaviours that people leaders demonstrate to champion female talent that make a real difference are:
- Provide coaching and feedback that builds business acumen
- Support flexibility to manage work schedules or location of work
- Provide equal access to meaningful stretch projects that are tied to strategic business objectives
- Give females exposure and profile to senior leaders and decision makers
- Recruit and promote from a diverse pool of candidates
Caroline Pfeiffer Marinho, Executive Vice President, EMEA for Lee Hecht Harrison, said,
Champions of female talent were twice as likely to demonstrate these behaviours to a very high degree compared to other people managers. We know that leaders shape culture. And when you need your culture to shift, you need to hold your leaders accountable to act in the desired ways.
Pfeiffer Marinho added,
In times of talent scarcity, you simply cannot choose to ignore or even exclude 50% of a potential talent pool – woman. Organisations have been investing in women and in organisational practices for decades, but with little results. Knowing that one of the key catalysts for elevating women is the behaviours of people leaders, organisations now have a clear business imperative to develop more champions of female talent, who shape an inclusive culture, making it possible for women, and consequently businesses, to thrive.
KPMG has just released its sixth Women in Alternative Investments report: The Call to Act, and it reveals a number of key improvements being made across the industry regarding gender diversity, but also sheds light on a gap between men and women regarding how much progress they believe is being made.
Some of the key findings from this year’s report include:
- Investors are pressuring funds to improve gender diversity, with 37 percent of investors polled requiring disclosure of diversity statistics for all potential investments (up from 16 percent last year)
42 percent of investors said they will require firms in their investment portfolios to improve diversity over the next year, up from 11 percent last year.
- Funds are taking meaningful steps to improve gender diversity by creating more diverse candidate pools, improving their retention and advancement efforts, and increasing opportunities for advancement for women through formal mentorship and sponsorship programs.
- But there is much work left to do to continue driving gender diversity within Alternative Investments.
For the first time, men were also polled in this report and we found a significant difference in how both genders see progress, with 65 percent of men agreeing their sector is addressing the issues, while only 45 percent of women agree.
- And 48 percent of women polled said their firm is not doing enough to recruit, retain or advance women, while only 30 percent of men agreed with that statement.
- In addition, only 20 percent of women polled say they have access to a formal sponsorship/mentoring programmes.
Kelly Rau, co-author and Audit partner for KPMG LLP’s Financial Services practice, said
We are at a critical time for women in business, and even in the highly male-dominated Alternative Investments industry we’re starting to experience progress.
Camille Asaro, Co-author and Audit partner, KPMG LLP’s Financial Services practice added:
Understanding the reasons why women are leaving is important to driving change and improvement in retention.
Role of Investors
While global investors are clearly making progress on placing more importance on gender diversity among alternative investment firms, there is a significant divide between men and women regarding how much progress has been made.
Among the 886 global investors who responded to the survey conducted 42% said they will require firms in their portfolios to improve diversity, compared to only 11% of the 791 respondents in the prior survey.
Also, over the next year, 75% of investors plan to ask their alternative investment managers to report diversity efforts, up from 60% in the last survey, and 37% said they will require disclosure of diversity statistics for all potential managers, up from 16% in the prior survey.
Interestingly, there is a divide between genders in terms of measuring how much their industry is progressing in their gender-diversity efforts. Sixty-five percent of women surveyed said their sector is not doing enough, while 45% of men said the same thing.
Also, 50% of surveyed women said their firm’s leadership believes diversity is central to their business strategy, while 65% of surveyed men believed the same of their leadership. When asked whether the statement “My firm is not doing enough to recruit, retain, or advance women” applied to their firm, 48% of women agreed and 30% of men agreed.
Jim Suglia, KPMG’s national leader, alternative investments, commented:
Women should not have to solve the problem by themselves; men also need to become part of the solution,” said in a news release announcing the report. “We are definitely seeing change in the right direction, but there is still a gap in how men and women view the issue and what remains to be done.
UK workplace culture stalls women’s careers say three in four women and two in five men reports year-long study involving almost 6,000 UK employees.
Everyday examples of unintentionally gender biased behaviour in workplace culture are stalling women’s careers, according to a year-long study released on 13 February 2019 by Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge.
Involving 5,814 UK employees, this research sheds new light on the implications of the way people tend to think about the strengths, attributes and potential of men and women. This is not a simple issue. Few people are intentionally sexist. The research found that gender double standards are perpetuated by both men and women.
Almost three in four (74%) female employees believe their workplace culture makes it more challenging for women to advance their careers than men. 42% of men agree. While many studies have focused on women’s perceptions alone, this research also reveals men’s views and the gulf between the two, identifying where focus is needed to ensure equality of opportunity.
These findings are released as part of Murray Edwards College’s Collaborating with Men programme. Delivered through research and workshops with large UK employers, the initiative enables employees across the genders to work together to solve cultural issues in their own workplace. It was launched after a 2014 survey of the all-female College’s alumnae reported workplace culture issues to be a greater barrier to career advancement than challenges relating to balancing work and family life.
Perhaps surprisingly more senior women report greater challenges to career progress. Half of senior female employees say their own workplace culture ‘often’ or ‘always’ presents career advancement challenges for women, compared with 36% of junior female employees. This has implications for career development and promotions.
The research found that the culture of UK workplaces is especially failing women of colour. Over half (56%) of women from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic or mixed race background say their workplace culture ‘often’ or ‘always’ presents career advancement challenges for women. This compares to 48% of white females.
Dr Jill Armstrong, lead researcher and Murray Edwards College Bye-Fellow comments:
Women are well equipped to excel in leadership positions, but they’re not rising from middle management in the same proportions as men. Those involved in the study have been surprised by the gender gulf in perceptions about the effect of unintentionally gender biased thinking. It’s workplace culture that has to change if we are to create equality of opportunity. That has to be done in partnership with men.
The latest study explores seven key ways in which gender stereotypes and unintentionally exclusive behaviour can damage women’s career progression opportunities:
- Women being judged more negatively when they behave in the same way as men
- Men and women being evaluated differently due to stereotypes around strengths
- Informal (social) networks that are important for decision making being male-dominated
- Men having more access to sponsorship from senior leaders
- Women not always being credited for their contribution to meetings
- “Benevolent sexism”, which is well intentioned but still hinders promotion prospects
- Women being interrupted in meetings
Double standards at root of women’s career progression challenges
Women being judged more negatively for behaviours that male colleagues also exhibit is one of the key examples of gender bias for organisations to address, according to the research.
43% of female employees say they have directly experienced being judged more negatively than men for the same behaviour in the last 12 months.
Dr Jill Armstrong comments:
Both male and female employees acknowledge that in many workplaces men get away with behaving in ways that are not considered acceptable for women. Female anger is still particularly unpalatable – we saw that with the uproar about Serena Williams at the US Open. What is perceived as decisive and strong from men, can be caricatured as bossy or aggressive from a woman.”
More than half (53%) of women have seen these double standards affect other female colleagues in the last 12 months. Yet only 18% of men have noticed this happening to female colleagues over the same year, suggesting that while many men are aware women face greater career progression challenges, they rarely notice the ways in which this manifests.
Crucially, the researchers found these double standards are perpetuated by female as well as male bosses. Well over half of the employees surveyed (55% of men and 59% of women) report personally being treated differently because of their gender by a female boss.
Stereotypes lead to women losing out on challenging opportunities
According to the participants’ rankings, one of the other most important issues for UK employers to address is stereotypical views on men’s and women’s strengths. This is likely to lead to biased decisions when filling leadership positions.
Previous academic research has established that traits commonly valued in potential leaders such as ambition, a single-minded commitment to work and risk-taking are frequently associated with men. Today’s study found these assumptions are perceived to affect women’s promotion into leadership positions.
According to two-thirds (64%) of female employees, stereotypical views about female traits, such as building good relationships, attention to detail and strong admin skills leads to them being perceived in their workplaces as good managers rather than good potential leaders. Only 29% of men believe this happens.
Kirsty Peacock, HR Director, Dentons UK & Middle East LLP, who has enrolled teams onto Collaborating with Men workshops comments:
I’ve tried many gender equality initiatives and this is the first one that’s started the conversation in a constructive way. Staff fill in a survey beforehand and the workshop begins by sharing the results. Being confronted by your own colleagues’ experiences is really powerful and the anonymity reduces the emotion that often comes with this subject.
It’s moved the conversations we’re having away from blame and defensiveness towards a positive dialogue, with everyone creating the solutions together. We already have great gender equality policies and processes, but this is enabling us to think about our culture on a deeper level.
Jason Ghaboos, researcher and Murray Edwards College Bye-Fellow comments:
Men can sometimes wonder whether it is their place to give a voice to these issues, and I have heard from male allies that their motives for being involved in gender issues are questioned; by both men and women. It needs to become more normal for men and women to talk about this.
Gender inclusivity is not a ‘women’s issue’. To class it as such is unhelpful and masks the complexity of the issues, and the nuance required of interventions. Often solutions in the past have focussed on what women need to do to improve the situation. In truth, meaningful change can only occur when women and men work together to improve the workplace culture for all.