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Inclusion in the Board Room

How Inclusive are global organisations for female talent

Gender diversity, or rather the lack of it, at the top of organisational hierarchies is a hotly debated topic, with only 20% of global corporate board members being women. Although there was a target to reach 33% female board representation by 2020, at the current rate this will still not be met by FTSE 300 corporations until 2027.

This is despite the clear benefits gender diversity brings, such as the significant positive relationship between the percentage of women on an organisation’s board, and the company value (Carter, Simkins & Simpson, 2003). This lack of women at board level, despite the benefits of having a diverse boardroom, provided the backdrop to our research into what women bring to the boardroom.

We interviewed 44 high potential women, who worked at CEO to CEO-2 level, to consider what propelled them to the top, as well as considering any obstacles they faced to help in future. Every female leader interviewed raised challenges which they faced to progress up the organisational hierarchy, with 60% identifying significant challenges that they had overcome in order to get to their current position.

Women also faced issues maintaining a healthy work-life balance, as well as attending networking events due to the societal expectation being that they should stay at home to look after their family, whereas the same does not apply to males. These challenges faced by women can be considered in future to ensure women do progress to the top, by supporting women through mentoring and sponsorship schemes, as well as ensuring an objective and transparent promotional process so that the future female leaders are able to reach their potential.

By understanding these challenges faced and educating organisations on the importance of inclusion, we can implement strategies to enable the future female leaders.