Men still dominate management and leadership positions, and less than two-thirds of employers make an effort to ensure that women and men receive an equal voice in meetings and decision making.
This is according to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) which, on International Women’s Day, has published research that reveals organisation-led support for women’s career progression is still lacking.
The CMI’s survey of 1,183 UK managers found that only 41% of management positions are held by women, despite women making up 48% of the working population.
Only 61% met the “most basic 21st century workplace expectation” for managers and senior leaders to ensure that women and men received an equal voice in decision-making, and just 49% have senior leaders that actively and visibly champion gender equality.
Only a third have mentoring and sponsorship opportunities in place for women, while only 22% admit that managers and senior leaders actively seek out and advocate women for key projects, roles and promotions.
CMI chief executive Anne Francke said the survey results “don’t support the rhetoric” employers promote around gender equality.
“Our research shows a very real gap between perception and reality,” she said. “There is no reason why, in this day and age, women should be any differently represented in management and senior workplace positions compared to their male colleagues.
“Organisations need to take a real hard look at how they support their female employees and what they actually have in place to help them with career development and success.
“I’d hoped that our findings would tell a very different story. Unfortunately it seems the move to male-female parity, particularly in senior roles, in the workplace remains something of a slow process and we’re well behind where we should have been by IWD 2022.”
However, recognising the role that flexible working opportunities can play in achieving gender parity, 89% of the managers polled said their organisation now offers flexible working arrangements, compared to 58% before the pandemic.
The CMI called on organisations and the government to conduct an impact assessment of how women’s position in the workplace has been affected by the pandemic and to implement any resulting recommendations.
It said the government should make action plans a requirement of gender pay gap reporting legislation and bring medium-sized firms into scope. This would add another 35,000 private sector companies providing 3.5 million jobs to the requirement.
At the time of writing, only 2,561 organisations had published their gender pay gap report for the 2021-22 reporting year to the government’s portal, out of an estimated 10,000 eligible employers. The deadline for reports to be submitted is 4 April for the private sector and 30 March for the public sector.
The CMI also wanted employers to champion gender-balanced practices through comprehensive equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plans; ensure employees undertook company-wide EDI training; ensure women are equally represented on recruitment and promotion shortlists; and provided two-way flexibility that accounted for both employee and business needs.
Learn more about how organisations can improve female representation at senior levels by joining our webinar with Peppy at 2:00pm today (8 March).