Existing leadership development programmes developed specifically for women are not successfully changing the status quo in the boardroom, new research by professional services recruiter Badenoch & Clark has revealed.
Yet the private sector offers more leadership development and targeted training for women than the public sector. 58% of women in the private sector say that their organisation had leadership and development programmes compared to only 48% of women in the public sector.
With one in three (31%) successful working women in the UK stating that men are offered greater opportunities at work, the research confirms that the glass ceiling is still a barrier to women in the workplace. This is especially true in typically male-dominated professions such as law and the IT industry.
When asked why men are offered more opportunities, over half of the women surveyed (57%) said it was because of an unconscious gender bias with male-dominated senior teams preferring to recruit, mentor and measure performance in their own image. This suggests that the challenging issue of gender bias cannot be resolved through development programmes alone.
The research found that salaries do not necessarily translate into opportunities or progression routes to the boardroom – in fact it showed quite the opposite. Those women with the highest salaries in the survey, in excess of £60,000 p.a., were the most likely (40%) to report that men were offered greater opportunities in the workplace. Women who earned less than £30,000 were far more positive: only 27% said that men were offered greater opportunities.
The public sector is leading the way with fairer practices and noticeably less gender bias. Women working in the public sector professions, including education and the NHS, consistently said they were offered equal opportunities in the workplace at 78% and 79% respectively.
In comparison one in five (20%) women in the private sector maintains that they had been passed over for promotion because of their gender, compared to only 8% of women in the public sector.
Nicola Linkleter, Managing Director of Badenoch & Clark, said:
“It is encouraging to see the huge advances we have made in recent years in improving the experiences of women in the workplace. It is clear that more doors are now open for women than ever before. However, there is evidently still a way to go. We cannot simply sit back and accept that more than a third of working women believe men are offered greater opportunities.
“It is fantastic that so many employers are proactively trying to develop their female talent, be that through mentoring or targeted training. But we need to look at the outcomes; are these programmes leading to more women in senior positions? If not, we need to interrogate why they are not working and do things differently.
“We must look to businesses and sectors that are successfully changing the status quo and creating a culture of gender equality and learn from them and their methods. Having a diversity policy in place or a training offering isn’t enough if it is not having a direct impact on the number of women in the boardroom.
“Ultimately recognising and challenging gender biases in the workplace will have dramatic and positive implications for businesses. Those that manage it will not only be better at attracting and retaining top talent, they will be more successful.”
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