women in leadership

Women in Leadership – Are women’s leadership & development programs working?

It seems the number of women in leadership, or to be more precise “female managers” in the UK has halved, according to a report from business advisory firm Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The findings show that half a million females are “missing” from workplaces in England and Wales, despite companies having made major strides to increase the proportion of women in leadership roles.

Despite this, there has been just a 0.1% increase in women in leadership levels since 2020, and women now comprise just over 30% of senior managers across all levels in UK businesses.

This is despite women making up around 48% of the workforce in financial services and insurance companies, 34% in manufacturing, 27% in retail, 13% in construction, and 10 % in the public sector.

PwC’s report also found that roles such as director, senior director, and associate directors attracted a higher percentage of women than ever before. However, a much higher percentage of these types of roles were filled by men. The disparity figure was 31% for CEO roles and 23% for managing director positions where women were missing.

It also found that financial services companies had seen the most improvement in gender equality since 2020, with female CEOs holding four out of ten leadership positions. In 2020, just 2.7% of financial services companies had a female CEO.

In contrast, pharmaceutical firms and media firms have made the worst progress, with just 2.6% of CEOs being women. The research also revealed that 57% of male managers were rising through the ranks, compared to just 40% of their female counterparts.

The findings come after the UK’s first-ever comprehensive gender equality database was launched in August 2021, which found there is a significant imbalance between male and female leaders across sectors such as media, finance, construction, and pharmaceuticals.

The research was carried out on behalf of FTSE 250 companies in England and Wales by PwC and sponsored by Intu Health Alliance Group. Adrian Gosnell, diversity and inclusion lead at PwC, said:

“While this year’s overall figures in our research indicate that there has been a small increase in female representation to 30% for senior manager roles, this masks the fact that women are still missing from the top roles.”

“It is troubling that men remain over-represented in senior leadership positions and we have seen little improvement since 2020. If the pace of change remains static, women won’t reach true equality until 2066 – 100 years after they were first allowed to vote.”

Now for one moment let us ignore the elephant in the room, that PwC themselves have 14 men and 8 women on their board and let us try to gloss over the spokesperson on this matter is a spokesman, not a spokeswoman. Setting all that aside for a moment, I am not entirely sure where Adrian is getting his dates from because women were granted the vote in the UK in 1928, so in fact by 2066, it will be 138 years!

He went on to say – “However, companies should be encouraged by the clear rise in women becoming directors since 2020. This reinforces the importance of continued efforts to support women with work-life balance and flexible working, which are critical to getting more women in leadership roles.”

“The good news is that more than two thirds of companies have clear diversity strategies in place, yet many firms are still failing to attract enough female talent into their workforce.”

However, Louise Mellor, head of equality and inclusion for the Intu Health Alliance Group, said: “With 22% of businesses saying that they do not have a gender equality strategy in place, there is clearly still a lot of work to be done.”

“Companies must ensure that all employees, male and female feel valued and supported at every stage in their career. This will encourage more women to climb the corporate ladder and take on top roles.”

Overall, around 15% of UK companies surveyed stated a goal of reaching gender equality by 2040, but less than half (47%) had a plan in place for doing so, which is a direct contradiction of Adrian’s “two thirds of companies”.

I certainly don’t want to get into a – he said – she said – debate, but rather just simply highlight how statistics can be massaged to reflect whatever reality the masseur or masseuse wants to portray.

How do we address this imbalance?

The underlying fact remains that companies are not doing enough to DEVELOP female leaders. I am in no way advocating quotas, which could result in women being promoted into leadership positions, who are not prepared for the role, simply because they are women.

Gender bias is an issue that has been present for centuries. Women have been fighting for their rights to be seen as equals in society and the workplace. The way of overcoming gender bias is not making exactly the same mistake, but in reverse.

The emphasis needs to be on companies developing their emerging female leaders and preparing them to become women in leadership roles.

Leadership skills can be developed and improved with practice, self-awareness, and hard work.

Leadership is a complex topic that encompasses many different characteristics. It can be hard to define leadership and even harder to know when someone is a leader.

Leadership can be defined as the ability to mobilise people and resources in order to achieve organisational goals. Leadership is not something that only happens in formal positions, but it can happen anywhere at any time.

Leadership development is an important part of any company. It helps to develop the skills of their employees and help them be more successful in their career.

Did You Know?

Organisations with a higher representation of women in leadership roles and on their boards markedly outperformed the organisations that don’t and, studies have also outlined that companies with greater gender diversity, not only in their workforce but directly among senior leaders, are significantly more profitable than those without.

A report by McKinsey & Company found greater gender diversity on the senior executive team corresponded to an improved bottom line. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and taxes rose by 3.5%.

The Link Between Women in Leadership and Peace

The World Economic Forum found that nations with a higher percentage of women in leadership roles are more peaceful than those with a lower representation.

Nations with the highest levels of women in leadership scored 1 point on the Global Peace Index, whilst nations with the lowest levels had a median score of 4.5 points on the Global Peace Index.

The report went on to say that women in leadership are more likely to understand and address the needs of the people, and they have different perspectives on conflict. Women are also more likely to use non-violent methods to solve problems.

Sarah Jones Leadership Coaching and Women in Leadership

I have personally overcome many challenges women face as they progress their careers on the path to becoming women in leadership. With over 25 years working in leadership positions within global organisations, I am ideally placed to coach and prepare women for leadership roles.

If you are a woman, who is an aspiring leader of the future, or an organisation looking to prepare your female employees for roles in leadership, then please contact Sarah who can help you achieve your goals.

How have I helped female leaders before?

Whether in their current, new, or first leadership role, I’ve helped women to find their voice & influence at a senior level, build confidence & resilience, embrace assertiveness as an asset to their role, and build alliances, overcoming any organisational & structural barriers.

Using proven tools & techniques, we will understand & analyse your behaviours at work, and define areas that we can improve upon. I have access to data that outlines the key global leadership traits that count today if you want to be successful and we will develop a plan to build key skills & techniques.

As a woman in leadership, whether new or experienced, you may realise that you need to adapt your mindset and style. Here are just some of the areas I cover – It’s called the ABC’s of women in leadership – Assertiveness, Boldness, Confidence: Owning your leadership journey & embracing your style, and what you offer.

  • Assertiveness training & skills
  • Boldness training & skills
  • Confidence training & skills
  • Finding your voice, and speaking up
  • A dive into ‘alpha female’ & related concerns
  • Building alliances & influence across the organisation
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Analysis of your leadership traits according to global benchmarks
  • Conflict resolution
  • Finding balance & dealing with competing emotions
  • Image, voice, words & body language

Many women have often told me that they find balancing competing emotions around wanting a career & balancing that with family life & parenting, emotionally & practically challenging – don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

Together, we will create & work through a personalised action plan to achieve both your personal & professional goals. To start this process I offer a no-obligation, complimentary and confidential consultation.

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Branding oneself as a leader, sarah jones leadership coaching, Assertive Communication