Career vs Family life

I recently came across an article in HR magazine claiming that more than a third of women do not think they can meet their career goals while still paying enough attention to their personal lives. We recently blogged about the lack of women on the board of UK firms – are the two connected?

Kenexa Research claims ‘traditionally, women play a larger role in managing their family responsibilities and, therefore, they are likely to feel pressure in trying to balance both work and family demands’.  Kenexa carried out a survey of over 1000 employees asking for their views on work-life balance; just over fifty per cent believed their employers supported their efforts to balance both their work life and personal life. Does being successful both in the workplace and at home depend then on the support you get from your employer? Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

New government, new fight for women?

There have been a number of articles recently about the lack of women in the boardroom of UK firms – the Guardian said ‘companies have employed armies of equal opportunities officers, diversity managers and HR professionals’ to sort this problem out, yet the ‘number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 has hardly changed’. In fact figures reveal that in 2009 only 12% of FTSE 100 companies had one or more women on their board.

So why is this case? Is it because women often take time off at some stage of their career to bring up their children and when they do return they have missed their opportunity; or that in a male dominated world, women are often overlooked by men on the board who like to recruit in their own image? These may very well be reasons why some women have missed out but how are we going to turn this situation around? Read the rest of this entry »

The future of women in IT


There is some great technology out there but unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future (hopefully a female technologist will invent one!) However if we did have one, we’d use it to see where women in IT would be in the future.

A report by the Government Equalities Office says that almost two thirds of UK businesses are missing out on female talent and suffering as a consequence. It also revealed that if we continue at the current rate of progress it will take 60 years for there to be an equal number of men and women in senior roles! If the government has recognised that this needs to change (which it seems it has with Gordon Brown saying there are too few women in Britain’s boardrooms), then shouldn’t we be doing more about it?

In our recent survey we asked our female technologists what they thought would happen to women in IT over the next five years – we got some interesting and different answers:

  • Shortage of new entrants because Science and Technology is not popular in schools, not seen as a girl-thing.
  • More women in very senior roles.
  • I think the number of women will increase as the younger generation is very much the digital native generation; however the level to which it increases relies on our intervention now.
  • They will continue to lead & be innovative but will not always get credit for it or equality of pay.
  • There will be more in the industry, more start up IT businesses with women CEOs.
  • One respondent simply said “not much”.

Which crystal ball prediction do you agree with? And what would you like to see done to give women in IT a boost?

Women of the board

As we reported back in August, some research was released showing that having women on the board could have a negative effect on the bottom line. The survey of 2000 companies in the USA showed a correlation between firms with more female board members and lower profitability and lower market value.

But a report launched today is entitled “women improve boardroom effectiveness” – it’s amazing how different research on the same subject can come up with such conflicting results! Boardroom consultancy IDDAS interviewed a fifth of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies to quiz them about their success.

The report’s findings are not too surprising and highlight all the main attributes of successful women that I would expect – that women are good at teamwork, non-confrontational, less ego-driven and so rare at this level that they excel under the spotlight. It also said that characteristics of successful women directors include energy, courage, resilience and social intelligence.

It’s nice to see some more positive research – it seems like we’ve had our fair share of negative PR lately! I think that other qualities it’s important for successful women to have are confidence, political savvy, strong negotiation skills and the ability to network. From your experiences, do you agree? For some top tips on political savvy you can see our white paper – just click here.

Do women damage the bottom line?

I recently came across an article that I read with interest – as it goes against much of the research and most of the opinions that I’ve come across!

According to the London School of Economics and Political Science, having more women on a board can improve governance as women are better at monitoring and more likely to attend meetings. However it also says there is a correlation between firms with more female board members and low profitability, which “suggests in well-governed companies, governance could have a negative effect.”

So basically this research shows that because women are more efficient in their work, organisations are suffering? Surely this signals that corporate governance needs to be re-assessed, not that women damage profitability! Besides, research from McKinsey actually shows the opposite – that the companies with more women at board level actually perform better financially.

It’s always disappointing to read pieces like this which just seem to add to the struggle for diversity. Of course we can’t generalise too much but on the whole, women do bring different skills to the table and organisations genuinely do benefit from having more diverse teams – not only in gender – but in age, race, background and so on. Let’s hope that the business world recognises this and doesn’t pay too much attention to this report!

Have we never had it so good?

Women in the workplace have “never had it so good”. That’s according to Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Marks and Spencer, who caused a stir when he made some rather controversial comments recently. “Apart from the fact that you’ve got more equality than you ever can deal with, the fact of the matter is that you’ve got real democracy and there really are no glass ceilings, despite the fact that some of you moan about it all the time” he said in an interview. “I mean, what else do you want to do, for God’s sake? Women astronauts. Women miners. Women dentists. Women doctors. Women managing directors. What is it you haven’t got?”

Where do we start?! Although we do indeed have female MDs, how many boardrooms have a balanced gender split? Not many. And how many women, especially in industries like IT, find it hard to get promoted? A lot. Sir Stuart is very right in saying that we’ve got a lot more equality than we have ever had before and yes, women can get to the top – but not without overcoming a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way.