Last week the French Government approved quotas for Boardroom positions for women in response to the low representation of women. Quotas have raised debate and have been a controversial issue for sometime, but could we see such a policy in the UK. The percentage of women in the Boardroom of the top 100 FTSE companies is less than that in France at a mere 12.3%. This slow progress of women’s advancement is in despite of the huge number of talented, ambitions and highly qualified women that have flood the workplace. I suggest the issue of such low number of women in senior roles is not about the talent per se. Half the best talent in the world is female! So what are those factors that have become barriers for women advancing in career, business and leadership. Here are a few.
- Women still face complex and powerful stereotypes in the business world and male-dominated industries
- Pay inequalities between genders
- The challenge of getting and retaining female talent
- Work-life Balance
- Women have the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities
- The lack of ‘quality’ mentors
- Women are not as well ‘networked’ as men.
- There is a lack of gender balanced leadership
But one issue not always discussed is how women view leadership and power? How well do we as women embrace leadership roles? In comparison to men women tend to be self-depreciating of their successes and achievements. Women can tend to be ‘nice’ rather than ‘political’ in the work place. How many times have you heard yourself or women say – “I’m not getting involved in the politics here?’ Women tend to wait to be asked for that promotion or new position and would rather not to highlight their achievements for fear of being too arrogant or labeled. Is our childhood construct is to blame? Or lack of confidence, fear or acceptance of this is just the way it is. Whatever the reason, can we not choose otherwise?
There is an accelerated shift in understanding of impact and influence women are having and will have in the 21st century- there will be economic, social and political consequences beyond our expectations. This time last last year The Economist reported
‘Women’s Economic empowerment is arguably the biggest social change of our times.‘ (January 2010)
Consider the words of Iyanla Vanzant back in 1996 – do her words resonate as we move into 2011?
“There is something phenomenal going on!
I’m not quite sure what it is, and quite frankly. I don’t care! I simply know, whatever it is, it will be great!
It has to do with change, healing, growth and evolution.
It has to do with women.
If I were pressed, I would put it into words like this:
There are changes taking place in the hearts and minds of women
That are going to rock the world!
Women are changing their minds about who they are: and what their role will be in the world order.
Women are learning to be responsible for the healing of their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual selves.
Women are learning to love themselves and each other.
Most of all women are evolving to the point where they are no longer willing to accept ‘nonsense’ from themselves or from anyone else.
I love it!
Will the women please stand up!”