Gender diversity in leadership - how do we get there?

Whilst women make up around 38% of the total global workforce, only about 17% are in chief executive and/or upper management positions and even then, annual salaries for men in similar roles are not equal.

Gender diversity in leadership - how do we get there?

Kala Sreedharan is director of Alligate Consulting

Whilst women make up around 38% of the total global workforce, only about 17% are in chief executive and/or upper management positions and even then, annual salaries for men in similar roles are not equal.

In fact, studies have suggested that women earn only 80% of what their male counterparts do.

This is despite the fact diverse work forces have proven time after time to outperform ones that are not.

Profitability is regularly evidenced to be higher for those companies offering diversity versus those that do not, whilst crucially staff turnover almost always decreases where a fair gender cross section occurs.

Breaking up the boys club

Within the technology and financial services marketplaces women have historically fared particularly poorly for boardroom representation and even now in today’s progressive society only 10% of chief technology officers are likely to be female.

The above occurs despite female talent being evident at all levels.

Based on personal experience and having spoken to female colleagues in senior leadership positions, the following simple steps can go a long way in encouraging the representation and balance that is needed in a workforce.

1/ Actively encourage and have structures in place that enable both male and female leaders within the company to act as role-models – and champion – flexible working.

2/ HR data should be regularly reviewed. Employers should consider every stage of the employee lifecycle to ensure that people management practices are fair and inclusive.

As an example, ascertaining the number of men and women applying for roles then qualifying who gets the job - and why - should be the norm.

3/ Absolute clarity of job description. Often employers put a long list of requirements, most of which are not needed to do the job.

4/ Publish policies on flexible working and parental/carers leave on the company website to highlight how the organisation supports parents and other people with caring responsibilities.

5/ Apply and be vocal about equal pay policies for the same role.

Here and now

Testing workflows to establish just how effective operating from home can be for employees has been one of the few highlights of the last 12 months.

Many companies embraced technology effectively through 2020 to support the unforeseen circumstances and moved seamlessly into these remote working environments.

It certainly appears that as we emerge from out of lockdown that splitting time between the office and home will be something that stays indefinitely.

This is something be applauded.

I’ve been particularly impressed with one of my clients, Crystal Specialist Finance. Like all distributors, this company was stopped in its tracks in March 2020 as lenders stopped funding their deals, valuers stopped visiting properties and staff were given their hardware to take home for use in a spare room.

When I was initially commissioned to work with the Crystal team it followed on from a three-month period where the leadership team had held daily meetings to pivot and plan for change.

Although I became the only female within the leadership group, I was however impressed to be surrounded more broadly by talented females who accounted for 52% of the total workforce operating within the business.

Furthermore, many of the longstanding female staff proudly volunteered the fact that the company was founded by an ‘impressive lady’ who led the Crystal for many decades.

Whilst achieving commercial success and bucking market trends were certainly key objectives identified during my initial meetings it was also abundantly clear that culture, inclusiveness and recognising talent whatever the ethnicity, age, religion or gender was also paramount.

I really hope I can continue to play my part as I consult and share ideas with this excellent company.

Winning post

One of the many things the last 12 months has shown is that ambitious companies wanting commercial success must look after their people with compassion and intelligence.

Having diversity within leadership groups will most likely deliver thoughtful approaches and assist the increase of profits.

Although having more female representation within the Technology and Financial Services sector is not a race to be won or lost, it certainly feels like a journey where momentum is being built and there is a valuable prize which offers equality and fairness to all at