Did you know that cultural factors at work are more than twice as likely as individual factors to contribute to a woman’s belief that she can reach top management? A global survey Moving mind-sets on gender diversity carried out by McKinsey & Company indicates that significant hurdles still stand in the way of women reaching management level. One of the challenges is the performance model that implies “anytime, anywhere” availability to work which penalises women in particular, and the belief that part-time work reduces the likelihood of promotion. Women need to feel that their contribution is valued enough for them to take on a management role regardless of the hours that they work.
When you do not have a healthy culture that supports women, especially mothers, they are forced to make decisions affecting their career or home life, or both. You may find that you lose talented individuals from your business or that talent is underutilised.
The Male Champions of Change initiative, comprising 21 CEO’s, department heads and non-executive directors, came up with four themes for leaders wanting to attract and advance women. These themes are:
- Stepping up as leaders – reflect on your own leadership and whether you are sending the right signals about women and gender balance in your organisation.
- Creating accountability – Reporting at a deeper level on pipeline and progress of women within your organisation.
- Disrupting the status quo – Reflect on work patterns and ‘what it takes to succeed’ in your organisation. Change the presumption – ask what can’t be done flexibly, rather than what can be done flexibly.
- Dismantling barriers for carers – Celebrate parenthood and unambiguously encourage return. Stay in touch with parental leavers and make the transitions easy.
We love the idea of turning the flexibility question on its head. When you’re looking at resourcing your teams look at what can’t be done flexibly, why is that? And can we try to change that? (within reason of course).
Dismantling barriers for carers is so important for all employees but can impact mothers the most. Looking at ways to support mothers by introducing flexible work hours or the ability to work from home can dramatically increase your involvement of women at a more senior level.
One of the strategies listed in this article, Four ways company culture can support women in leadership, is to listen to the career concerns and desires of women. Creating a two-way dialogue where women feel comfortable talking about their careers will help to shape the pathways available to women for advancement.
To discuss how you can implement strategies to attract and retain senior level professionals in your organisation, contact our experienced team via our website.