London Business School study finds flexible working, mentoring and networking groups are not enough to help more women into leadership roles

Flexible working, mentoring and networking groups are not enough to get more women into leadership roles, research has revealed.

The London Business School study of more than 60 organisations from varying sectors, called Inspiring Women: Corporate Best Practice in Europe, found that too little time was still being spent developing women to be business leaders.

Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the business school, said: “While companies offer flexible working schemes, mentoring and networking, this has not translated into significantly more women in emerging leadership positions.

“Companies are not preparing women for leadership. They are not giving women the chance to manage critical projects, or go overseas, for example. Women are not being used to their full potential.”

Gratton also said that in the 95% of companies surveyed that offered flexible working, only 10% of women actually took up the offer.

Company policies towards flexible working tend to be inflexible, she said. “Only a small proportion of women take up their right to work flexibly,” she added.

Of the organisations studied, 27% set targets for the numbers of women in senior executive roles, and 22% for appointments to the executive board.

“I do think we need targets to ensure that at least 30% of senior positions are taken up by women,” Gratton said. “Having more women at the top provides crucial role models.”

But she added: “Four out of the 62 companies we surveyed have women chief executives. That says it all.”

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