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Whats preventing female communications professionals from reaching the boardroom?

Women in the communications sector are failing to reach the boardroom due the differences in communications styles commonly used by each gender. The issue is predominantly one of language, rather than skills, argues Julia Meighan, Chief Executive of specialist corporate and marketing communications recruiter, VMA Group.

Julia Meighan suggests that female professionals have, on the whole, a tendency to try to connect with individuals in order to build effective relationships, whereas men focus their efforts in gaining legitimacy through demonstration of their results.

Given that many boards are still male dominated, women will struggle to gain the credibility needed to influence the senior team and secure a high profile position unless they adapt their communications approach.

And while many commentators continue to suggest that quotas and flexible working practices will solve the imbalance of female board representatives, Julia argues that the lack of progress to date is evidence that these options simply aren’t addressing the key issue. For example, the latest report from the World Economic Forum, signals that the gender equality gap between men and women in the UK workplace has actually widened in the past year.

Julia explains:

“Part of the reason little progress has been made on this issue is a basic misconception as to the true challenge we’re facing. In most cases it is not conscious discrimination where women feel unable to progress, nor is it a lack of support for working mothers – we work in a highly flexible environment whereby professionals of all levels and both genders can work around their personal needs.

“The answer is more subtle, and is one around the language of business and how men and women communicate. At the risk of over-simplifying the matter, in most - though of course not all - instances, females will focus on emotional intelligence in their management style and board-level communications. Men, in comparison, will often place much more emphasis on legitimacy and empirical evidence.

“While the distinction is often slight, it is enough to create a barrier to success for women at companies with male dominated Management Executives.”

In order to address the real barrier facing female professionals across the communications industry, VMA Group will be hosting a number of events throughout 2015 designed to give individuals the communications tools necessary to progress their career.

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