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Only 11% of UK women aspire to reach top roles in their company

European countries are lagging behind developing nations when it comes to female ambition in the workplace, with the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands falling furthest behind, according to a survey from Hays.


The survey of over 11,500 people globally found that only 11% of women in the UK believe they need to reach the most senior levels, MD or CEO, in order to feel successful in their careers, compared to 14% of men. This compares to 28% in Malaysia, 22% in Colombia and 18% in the UAE.


In contrast, British women are much more satisfied in reaching mid/ senior-level roles. Almost four in 10 women in the UK (36%) say they would need to reach director level to feel successful, compared to 33% of men.


According to Hays, women in senior management tend to be concentrated in support functions rather than leadership roles at the core of the organisation. Recent research has shown that globally only 9% of women are chief executive officer (CEO) or chief operating officers (COO). Chief financial officer (CFO) roles are slightly higher with 18% of these roles held by women, according to data from Grant Thornton.


Yvonne Smyth, group head of diversity at Hays, said, “It is concerning that only one in ten women in the UK aspire to reach the most senior roles within their company, despite their ambitions to reach manager and director roles.


“It has been proven that more diverse organisations not only outperform those which are less diverse, but are also most likely to attract and retain the most talented professionals. Companies would stand to gain a competitive advantage if they encourage development from a wide talent pool, at a time when many industries are suffering with skill shortages.”


Hays says that there needs to be better support from all sides around gender diversity in order to encourage women to reach the top. There is currently an imbalance between men and women in their views about pay and recognition for female workers. Just 14% of UK men compared to 44% of UK women believe that equally capable male and female colleagues are not paid or rewarded in an equal manner.


Companies also need to be more transparent about what is being done to support the advancement of women in the workplace, including formal gender diversity policies. The majority of respondents said their organisation either didn’t have a diversity policy (28%) or they weren’t sure if one existed (32%).


Smyth added,Businesses need to ensure they are focusing on internal initiatives and policies in place to retain and promote their top female talent. By being aware of the different factors that motivate men and women and making career plans visible and accessible to all, employers can encourage and enable women to move into more senior positions.”


Currently, women constitute only 25 of the 267 executive directors in the FTSE 100 (9%), while in the FTSE 250, women are even less well represented, making up just 5% of executives.


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