Women are dropping out of top posts due to a lack of flexibility

Women
are deselecting themselves from top posts in business because the executive
lifestyle does not offer sufficient flexibility, experts say.

Delegates
at the ‘Driving Diversity Success’ discussions, organised by the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), agreed that women had much more
exposure to the benefits of flexible working than men due to breaks in
employment for maternity and career changes.

The
gender divide was widened further by an ongoing perception of men as the chief
breadwinners, delegates said.

Deborah
Rees, director of Innecto
People Consulting, said that a study she had carried out showed that eight out
of 10 high-flying women had chosen to set up their own businesses rather than
stay in corporate life.

"Women
have looked at what is available and have seen there is not enough there for
them – the rewards aren’t attractive enough," she said.

Phil
Badley, assistant chief
executive of HR at Stockport Council, said: "Men will wait in line -women
don’t hang about."

Vanessa
Robinson, organisation and resourcing
adviser at the CIPD, said the challenge was to shift the gender mindset to
encourage women to stay in business and ensure that they did not have to act
"in a male way" to get to the top.

She
said that to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions, gender initiatives had to
be targeted at men as well as women.

A
recent study by the University
of Exeter
found that having broken through the glass ceiling, women then face a ‘glass
cliff’, because businesses often offered them
top positions when the company was in trouble.

This
was due to the perception that women faired better in crisis situations than
men, the research claimed.

By
Michael Millar

 

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