A new report from Grant Thornton: Women in Business, New Perspectives on Risk and Reward, reveals that globally, one in four senior roles is now held by a woman. Although this is a slight increase from last year, the proportion of businesses with no women in senior leadership positions has also risen.
Once again, developing countries are leading the charge on diversity, with many major economies continuing to lag behind.
Diversity in leadership
Diversity is key to business success. With a mixture of men and women at the helm, companies are better prepared for all eventualities. And yet, in 2017 the needle has barely shifted. Each year, we seek to add new insights and recommendations that will further our understanding of and solutions for greater gender diversity.
Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton UK, LLP, the first woman to hold this role, was the Women in the City Woman of Achievement Award Winner in 2009. She said:
We know that diversity is central to shaping a vibrant economy in which people and businesses thrive. Diversity means there are a greater variety of ways of thinking, opening organizations up to new perspectives. The diversity agenda is all about creating an environment that is conducive to all – and what women see of leadership isn’t always that attractive. To this end we need to see a fundamental shift in what leadership looks like and what is expected of people in senior leadership positions.
Established notions of leadership are letting women down. The ‘hero model’ of leadership, where the individual commanding must be perfect and the job all-consuming, is still extremely prevalent, whilst more collaborative and inclusive forms of leadership are overlooked. This is a real concern as it suggests businesses are squandering the full potential of their people. Businesses need to re-balance what leadership is to make it attractive to future leaders who expect the role to be interesting, meaningful, flexible and with reasonable reward too.”
- Take action to speak up for diversity and embed change throughout the organisation, not just at the top
- Encourage diverse leadership styles and role models
- Invest in sponsorship programmes, not just mentoring
Gender and risk
Risk management is the process of identifying, evaluating and managing uncertainty. It is vital for business success. Men and women perceive and respond to risk in different ways, contrasting in how they balance speed and decisiveness with careful consideration. Brought together, these strengths facilitate effective risk strategies for the sustainable growth of dynamic businesses.
- Build mixed gender teams for effective risk management
- Provide women with leadership opportunities that make them familiar with risk
- Create a culture where taking calculated risks is part of successful business strategy, not something to avoid
- Use neutral terms like ‘risk aware’ rather than ‘risk averse’ or ‘risk loving’ to avoid gender stereotyping
- Include opportunities in the company risk register
- Engage in a more collaborative risk management process
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