I did not have role models growing up in a village in Leicestershire. There were no female cashiers let alone visible female senior managers or business owners in Leicester City. The message to me was clear, gender equality has no place here ‘I did not fit in’. As a young adult I realised the importance of identifying with role models to reinforce my identity and to give me direction when I had little experience to focus my own lofty ambitions.
The Importance of Female Role Models:
· The more women that there are in visible positions the better the indication of the possibilities of an open and fair society.
· As a diverse society more diverse customers relate to and engagement with a transparent business when it reflects their needs and aspirations.
· The more senior the position within the business, the more visible that position becomes both internally and externally, encouraging others to follow this lead.
· Key players in society get asked to do more and become more visible as role models.
· Role models encourage others to higher levels of self-esteem and greater aspirations
There is a link between seniority, visibility, engagement and success. Dr Ruth Sealy lead researcher on the annual Female FTSE Report says “The lack of women at board level can be described as the ‘symptom’ and the ’cause’ is the lack of women in the executive pipeline.”http://bit.ly/1kK09E3
Recruiting women into non-executive roles is not the answer, Lisa Mayhew partner and head of employment at an international law firm states “this approach runs the risk of diverting attention away from why there are fewer women in executive management roles. When aiming for true gender equality, it’s important not to create further divisions at board level. We need to avoid the problem of women being side-lined into non-executive positions.” http://bit.ly/1gnqMHz
For too long women have been side-lined, they are less likely to secure capital to start a business and so more females business owners are self-funded, a study found that women-owned businesses started life with only 64% of the capital of male-owned businesses. The cause is stereotyping and unconscious bias, the effect is a lack of female role models in business and leadership.
For example women “represent 42% of the UK workforce and 55% of university graduates. Yet women are still less likely than men to be associated with leadership positions in the UK: they account for 22% of MPs and peers, 20% of university professors, 6.1% of FTSE 100 executive positions, and 3% of board chairpersons.” http://bit.ly/1kK03MD
Research conducted by Erikson supports that identity is formed when we are young adults, at this stage we determine appropriate and acceptable behaviour and identify models of who we want to be like. http://1.usa.gov/1kK01nQ
Thirty years on and following International Women Day, I feel we still have a long way to go there far too few visible female role models in business, how can we expect to change the landscape significantly? What is your view?
The ethos of my book ‘Business Evolution, Creating Growth in a Rapidly Changing World’ is to be global, think local and act personal. In the book you will learn to align your business personality, your purpose and your processes to your customer’s pleasure.
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Janice B Gordon: The Problem Solver, Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Broadcaster and Speaker. Get her FREE eBook ‘How to Stand out from the Crowd’