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Time to Shake the Bedrock of the Boardroom:

Time to Shake the Bedrock of the Boardroom: SHL Research Reveals Why Women Aren’t Fighting for a Place at the Top of UK Business

SHL, the global leader in talent measurement, today announces that UK women rank fifth in the world for leadership potential. Despite this, research[2] finds that only 20% of women in the UK are represented in leadership roles. SHL’s data also reveals that there is a negligible difference in leadership potential between genders worldwide. The UK ranks 19th out of 25th for leadership roles held by women, in contrast to Norway (where 42% of leadership roles are held by women), Thailand (39%), Italy (36%) and Hong Kong (33%). Japan ranks 25th with only 5% of leadership roles held by women.

While the supply of leadership potential across 25 countries is actually slightly in favour of women, the gender difference in senior positions globally is a staggering 76% in favour of men. The research is part of SHL’s Talent Report announced today at its flagship conference SHL LINK 2012and is based on the analysis of over one million people from its Talent Analytics&trade database.

Despite there being little difference between gender and leadership potential, there are stark differences in critical motivational factors that distinguish people in senior positions worldwide, which may be preventing women from progressing to the top. The findings reveal that men in leadership positions are motivated by power and fear of failure, whereas women are motivated by a constructive working atmosphere and receiving recognition.

“With three men to every one woman being in leadership positions on average globally and men being motivated by power and a fear of failure, UK boardrooms are self-perpetuating an unbalanced culture which is likely to naturally disengage women from aspiring to reach a senior position,” said Eugene Burke, Chief Science and Talent Analytics Officer.

It is evident that females are becoming increasingly demotivated as they progress in their careers. At companies with more than 1,000 employees around the globe women’s representation diminishes significantly as responsibility and titles increase: 48% of junior-level positions are held by women, which drops to 36%for mid-level roles and just over 26% for senior level jobs including senior vice presidents and above, according to CEB research.[3]

“Businesses are failing to tap into 50% of the global talent pool,” said Eugene Burke. “This is a huge missed opportunity given the challenge for finding high performing leaders as baby boomers retire.”

Research from SHL, conducted by Opinion Matters, also captured the views of men and women on how to redress this gender imbalance in the boardroom. It found that women in the UK are split equally on the issue of boardroom quotas, with 51% of women believing there should not be quotas introduced and 68% of men agreeing with them.

“The C-suite culture will have to change if it is to attract aspiring female leaders,” said Eugene Burke. “UK plc needs to proactively adapt boardroom culture so more women are keen to continue their career path to the top. Moving away from an organisational culture framed by fear of failure to one founded on recognition for contribution and performance will be a stronger attraction for potential female leaders.”

“The Talent Report equips line managers and HR professionals with the insight to start conversations about motivation and career aspirations. This is about helping to build the capability of our next generation of leaders so a diverse and inclusive workforce can be achieved,” concluded Burke.


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