Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why Gender Parity at The Top Level Doesn’t Work

This week we celebrate women everywhere with the 8 March being International Women’s Day. I am writing a series of posts dedicated to the discussion of gender parity in the workplace and the vital importance of diversity. 

Gender parity in the boardroom is an unrealistic notion. Gender parity in other corporate situations is not:

  • Women should be paid equally for performing an equal role. 

  • Women should have the same opportunities available to them as men. 

  • Career breaks to care for children (or otherwise) should be viewed as value- adds rather than as inconveniences. 

Despite these areas where I believe equality to be vital, I also believe that organisations seeking a 50/50 balance at boardroom, or even senior, levels is unrealistic. 

Firstly not all women aspire to a top level job. Through the course of facilitating over 700 hours of coaching sessions, I can certainly say that corporate life - at the highest of levels - isn’t for everyone. The reasons vary: 

  • Regardless of whether or not women take career breaks, many feel that their priorities change as they get older. 

  • Some choose to stay at home for lengthy periods of time to raise children, or care for other family members. 

  • Many take on less stressful, or more flexible roles, outside of mainstream corporate environments. 

  • After years in corporate positions, many women choose to go into business for themselves. 

My view is that a 60 male/40 female split is what organisations should be chasing at the most senior level. And it should probably be reviewed as a long term strategy with promotional decisions occurring on a sliding scale: some years the split might be 65/35 and others 55/45 for example. 

Rebecca Allen is an Executive Coach and Facilitator who has been working for over a decade with Corporate Women who want to progress in their careers and stand out from the crowd. 

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