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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Male-dominated corporate culture hindering women's prospects, survey claims

Male-dominated corporate cultures are the biggest barrier to women reaching the boardroom, a new report has claimed. 

A study carried out by board network Inspire and executive search firm Harvey Nash revealed that more than half (52 per cent) of the 600 CEOs and directors surveyed believe that today's corporate cultures are dramatically reducing the length of time women are prepared to stay and develop their career with their employer.

Interestingly, 60 per cent of all senior executives in the survey say their productivity would be increased if their organisations played a more active role in helping them balance their work and non-work lives; the majority by 10- to 25 per cent. Well over half of respondents (58 per cent) say their productivity would rise by 10- or 25 per cent if work fitted better with life outside the office. 

Introducing the findings, Carol Rosati, co-founder of Inspire and director of Harvey Nash, said: "Organisations are failing to recognise that in today's world, employees of all genders want different ways of working. But often the bias that creates this male-dominated culture is unintentional and unconscious. 

"Without realising it, senior managers often celebrate presenteeism and reward those employees who they have the most immediate access to. A more enlightened approach to managing all employees will help re-balance the gender in the talent pipeline, but also create a more productive workforce and improve retention. These initiatives need not be expensive, but the onus is on businesses to change the way they operate to achieve these gains."

The report also reveals that there appears to be little appetite for change among organisations. Over half of respondents felt it would take at least ten years before women make up one-third of private sector boards and more than 16 per cent thought it would take more than 15 years.

Alexa Bailey, co-founder of Inspire and consultant at Harvey Nash said: "The kind of activities that are seen to help an individual's career, such as additional networking opportunities, social events, or staying longer in the office, are harder to participate in for anyone with responsibilities outside of work. But if a different approach to the workplace is adopted, everyone is equal. 

"A diverse board is a stronger board, better able to identify and take advantage of commercial opportunities. By letting too many women opt out of corporate life halfway up the career ladder, organisations risk disconnecting with their customers, weakening their competitive edge and missing out on further opportunities. This isn't a talent issue; it's simply a bottom line business issue."


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