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Women in business. Appeasement or progress?

People & Leadership

Women in business. Appeasement or progress?

Why are we celebrating that women account for 20% of FTSE 100 Directors? When the majority of these appointments are to non-executive directors, this is not progress this is appeasement.

Why are more women in business an important issue for both men and women?

Women are far more economically independent and socially autonomous, representing 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.

Women must be seen as leaders, managers, business owners and policy makers, this not only dispels ingrained stereotypes – it is good for customers, women control 70% of global consumer spending; it is good for business, a gender balanced boards produces more profits and it is good for a competitive economy.

We need to ask – ‘how do we want and need both men and women to contribute to society, to live and to work’? Lloyds Banking Group chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio has answered this question stating that they will ensure that 40% of its 5,000 senior workforce is made up of women within the next six years.

Our minds are set by the limits of our experience.

We naturally progress within the limits of our experience, our experience is full of social stereotypes, gender and unconscious bias, with this ingrained filter firmly switched on, it is difficult to make subjective unbiased decisions. Businesses face a challenge when it comes to attracting and retaining female talent.

Change is needed and change can only happen with a shift in mind-set. Overcoming stereotypes and unconscious bias can only be achieved if we are willing to address our own immediate judgments and adopt behaviours and policies to mitigate their potential effects.

Anil Dash experimented with his growing sense of social responsibility about what messages he choose to share and amplify, and whose voices and identities he strived to bring to his substantial following. He observed that it had been effortless to make the switch to only retweet women, consequently he has received far more “thanks for the retweet!” messages, has had far more conversations with women, which has led him to follow more women; he now offers his followers a wider perspective with less dominance on single themes. Anil states “I wouldn’t have thought of a sustained campaign of amplifying voices as being meaningful without first having chosen to be mindful of who I retweet.”

Think how you can break down social stereotypes and unconscious bias in your business and like Anil you could see the advantages it brings not only in your own mind-set but to your followers or customers.

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