Monday, January 19, 2015

Women still being held back by 'glass walls' from top management positions...

The number of women in senior and middle management roles has increased over the last 20 years, but women are still massively under-represented in the top management positions, according to a new study published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) last week. 

The Women’s Organisation have read the report and picked out some of the key facts from it: 

The report shows that women still have to overcome obstacles to reach the top positions in companies, such as CEO’s. So whilst there has been progression in business and management, they are continually being shut out of the high-level decision making roles.

The report put this down to a number of reasons, one of them being that women are not being selected for top management roles because there management experience isn't diverse enough. During women’s careers they may not have been exposed to all types of company operations, and therefore not gained enough experience in general management. 

‘The concentration of women in certain types of management reflects the ‘glass walls’ phenomenon, which is segregation by gender within management occupations’ So while women are getting access to higher levels of management, there is a tendency for them to be in particular managerial functions; 
‘Attaining experience in managerial functions, such as operations, sales, research, product development and general management is crucial for women to rise through the central pathway to the top of the organisational hierarchy.’
‘However, women are often siloed in managerial functions such as human resources, public relations and communications, and finance and administration, are therefore are only able to go up the ladder to a certain point in the organisational hierarchy.’ 

But it has been proven time and time again that a gender balance in management teams and boards improves business performance. The ILO report collected studies that proved this claim, one of them being McKinsey and Company. ‘They researched the relationship between organisational and financial performance and the number of women managers. It found that European listed companies with more women in their management teams had 17% higher stock price growth between 2005 and 2007, and their average operating profit was almost double their industry average.’ 

The report went on to say that some countries are taking more controversial steps to improve gender parity, including Norway implementing mandatory quotas for women on company boards. ‘Other countries, notably Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States of America, whilst stopping short of quotas have adopted a variety of measures to promote more women in management, such as inclusion of gender diversity requirements.’ 

 ILO’s report after breaking down the issues which prevent women from reaching top management positions, and indicating the benefits that come from having gender balance in business, then broke down the ways in which companies can break down this glass wall and ceiling effect and finished with this statement;

‘With the evolution of labour markets, the high educational and skills levels of women and their growing role in national economies and political life, women today hold a wealth of talent and resources that can be tapped by companies large and small. Employer’s organisations can play a key role on creating greater awareness among their members of this potential and advising on how to adapt policies and practices at the company level for women’s talent to be optimised and for women to participate in decision making and so improve business outcomes’ 

The full report can be found here

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