With Lord Davies’ Women on Boards 25% target deadline looming this year, all eyes are on British businesses to make sure they're not falling behind, but are giving the talented women in their organisation the right support and opportunities to get to the top.
But a new survey from 02 would indicate that there is a long way to go. According to the poll, over half of women working in IT (59%) believe there still aren’t enough women in senior positions in their company. Almost two thirds (63%) believe all the decision-makers in their company are male, and almost a quarter of women in IT (24%) believe it’s impossible for a woman to reach a senior management role.
While there has been significant progress in many UK boardrooms since Lord Davies’ challenge was set in 2011, O2’s research findings suggest that progress isn’t moving fast enough. With almost two thirds (63%) of the women in IT polled saying all the decision-makers in their company are male, the reality is that many women – the potential female board members of the future – aren’t seeing evidence of improved diversity.
Perhaps more concerning is the fact that, despite the increased efforts of businesses to promote diversity, so many women don't believe they can make it through the 'glass ceiling.'
And it is not through a lack of ambition. Many women said they do dream of being the CEO or on the board of a company (45%) one day. However, when asked about their own career, over a third (36%) revealed that it had failed to meet their expectations.
On a more personal level, the research also revealed that a crisis in confidence is threatening to derail the career progression of many working women. Almost a third of women in IT (30%) said they lacked the confidence to ask for the promotion that they felt they deserved. What’s more, of the women who felt their career had met or exceeded their expectations, ‘luck’ was deemed to be the number one factor in their success, while factors such as skill, ambition and determination hardly featured at all.
In response to the findings, O2, in association with the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is launching a new guide to help businesses implement an impactful Women in Leadership programme, to help women with talent and potential to reach the highest levels in British businesses.
'As an employer, today’s findings make for uncomfortable reading. We want all our people – male and female – to feel supported and encouraged throughout their career, and it’s crucial that we remove any stumbling blocks preventing them from fulfilling their ambition and potential,' said Ann Pickering, director and board member at 02.
'Our research shows that, while the diversity debate has moved on outside of the office, not enough women are actually seeing this progress at work. If we’re to achieve sustainable and long-lasting change, we can’t just look at women already at the top; we need to focus our efforts on women at every level, creating a strong pipeline of female talent across British businesses. If we fail to do this, there is a very real risk that these women will seek these opportunities elsewhere.
'That’s why we’ve worked with the CIPD to create this guide, which will help businesses support the talented women in their organisation, so that they are able to reach the highest levels without the need for artificial quotas.'