Society must recognise that leadership is gender fluid, and fast, if we are going to see real change at a senior level.
We have been discussing the lack of women in a leadership position as long as I can remember. And this report, published by Cranfield University, is indeed a testament to the progress we are making as a society, but that progress is too slow.
Sadly, as the report shows, those women that do manage to rise to senior positions don't last nearly as long as men do, despite it taking women longer to get there in the first place. While the root cause of this is not yet known for certain, it is clear that the only way to move the needle is to see cultural change from the bottom up.
Lorraine Mills, Director of European Professional Services at The Myers-Briggs Company, sums this up perfectly: “leadership has long been recognised as culturally masculine.” Women must exhibit behaviours that are associated with men to be considered for top jobs. This is damaging to society and will not help us move towards a more diverse and equal society unless how we view leadership changes.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently banned adverts that reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. This means, we can finally look forward to a future that doesn’t restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults, restrictions which all too often reinforce the lack of gender equality in society. But to get there, we must acknowledge the years it has taken to establish the sexist stereotypes that are embedded in our culture and invest in developing the corporate self-awareness needed to reach a level playing field faster.
Women make up 32% of FTSE 100 directors – up from 29% a year ago – putting leading companies on track for the government’s target of 33% by 2020, the report by Cranfield University said. But female directors keep their jobs for a shorter time and are less likely to be promoted than men, the report found. Female directors are also older than their male counterparts and disproportionately white. The average tenure for female executive directors on FTSE 100 boards is 3.3 years, whereas the average for male directors is 6.6. Among non-executives the average woman has served 3.8 years compared with five years for men.