It’s hard to believe in the 21st century, but there has been a significant, recent decline in the number of women in executive roles in FTSE 250 companies, and no progress among the FTSE 100. Address the key barrier to women in senior positions and you’ll also address the biggest performance challenges you have. Juliette Alban-Metcalfe explores how organisations can level the playing field in the HR Director Magazine.
These findings were highlighted in the latest update to the Cranfield University FTSE Women on Boards report, released last month. The report shows that there are only 30 women in these roles in the FTSE 250 today, down from 38 last year. As a percentage, it is just 6.4 percent of Board positions overall. It’s important to remember that having fewer women in senior positions than men is closely related to the gender pay gap, given that one of the major causes of the remuneration disparity is the imbalance of men and women in the upper echelons of organisations.
Some of the reasons why perfectly effective women can often fail to progress to senior roles in organisations (and not just as far as Board level) are fairly well known, and many organisations are working to try to address them. They include company cultures that aren’t flexible or conducive to positive work-life balance, male-dominated cultures, or cultures in which they are unable to break into the ‘old boys’ network’, among other reasons. However, because of the subtlety of its existence, one of the most insidious and least addressed barriers to women’s career progression into senior roles is often unrecognised. This is the criteria for success being applied to selection and promotion.
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