Despite close to 50 per cent of women expressing interest in becoming leaders in their chosen field, a new study commissioned by SEEK, released to coincide with International Women’s Day, has found gender parity in leadership roles is still a big issue in Australian business.
65 percent of the participants surveyed said they would like to see more women in leadership roles. Despite this, women in senior positions make up only 40 percent of the nation’s leading executives. When it comes to CEOs the numbers are even more dismal, with only 11 of Australia’s top 200 companies having a female CEO.Seek Group HR Director Kathleen McCudden said she hoped the findings would assist in understanding the motivations for men and women to pursue leadership roles and how workplaces could be more inclusive to ensure women felt they could raise their hand for the top jobs.
“Understanding the drivers and motivations of the entire workforce is an essential step towards building a more inclusive workplace that caters for the needs and aspirations of everyone.” McCudden, said.
The SEEK study also revealed marked differences in what attracts men and women to a leadership role.
Top three attractions to leadership roles by gender
|supporting and mentoring staff to reach their potential (43%)||feeling accomplished in my career (42%)|
|being respected for my knowledge and experience (38%)|
expanding my professional experience (37%)
|higher salary and/or other financial benefits (36%)|
being responsible for getting positive results (36%)
“What this research tells us is that beyond salary, there are very different drivers in the value women ascribe to leadership roles, compared to men. This provides insight in how businesses can position and advertise roles so they are attracting both men and women to apply for leadership roles,”McCudden explained.
Further to this, the research also showed men and women held different beliefs when it came to what constituted a good leader.
25% of men feel that ‘being disciplined’ was a key quality of a good leader, but only 8% of women agree. A quarter of women surveyed also valued emotional intelligence as significant.
McCudden said the survey results also suggested employers needed to look at increased flexibility if they want to promote and retain women in senior leadership positions; with 39 per cent of women saying work-life balance is important.
Significantly, women were over three times more likely to have left their last job due to a change in their family situation (7%), compared to men (2%).
“The research shows women’s career choices are influenced to a greater degree by their family and home commitments than men. Recognising this, businesses can look to structure roles so they are more accessible and sustainable for men and women, including those in leadership roles, to adapt to their work life to cater for family commitments. Whether that’s offering flexible working hours, provision to work from home, or just having a less rigid working environment to allow for the best solution to suit each employee,” said McCudden.