Businesses where women occupy more than 30% senior leadership roles are more likely to nurture ambition, with a quarter (27%) of senior leaders actively mentoring others and 17% looking to “sponsor” more junior employees, according to research.
The proportion of staff who were mentors to others in companies that are under the target to have 30% of board positions filled by women was just 14%.
The research, conducted by YouGov for Vodafone, questioned 2,000 senior decision makers from FTSE 350 companies about the behaviours and workplace cultures that improved gender diversity in senior teams.
Karen Blackett, chair of MediaCom UK, said: “Mentoring is an essential part of growing any business from within and fostering a culture of progression and ambition. The adage ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ is especially true for women.
“Vodafone’s research shows 38% of female employees who have exposure to senior mentors in companies over the target believe they will make it to the board themselves. This is in stark contrast to the 21% of women working in companies under target who aren’t motivated to reach board level.”
Earlier this month the 30% Club announced that the FTSE 350 had achieved the target to have 30% of board positions filled by women ahead of the 2020 deadline.
Businesses looking to meet the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% of females in senior leadership roles by 2020 should invest in mentorship schemes, encourage role models, have visible executives who spend time with staff, and demonstrate a positive approach to flexible working according to Vodafone’s report, Driving Gender Diversity at the Top: 2019 & Beyond.
Employees working at companies that have met the target were shown to benefit from higher interaction with executives, with 66% saying they see senior leaders always or often. At companies that are below target, 22% said they see members of the board rarely or never, compared to 13% at businesses above target.
The research also found that companies that embrace flexible working had more diverse boards. Half (49%) of employees working at companies with more than 30% women in senior roles said that flexible working feels normal because the senior team are advocates themselves. This proportion dropped to less than a third (30%) at businesses under the target.