Women in Leadership: 7 steps to conscious inclusion

Millennials will be the ones to finally level the playing field for women at work – but it will take another 13 years to achieve gender parity in the workplace

AUSTRALIA: 4 December 2015ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN), the world’s workforce expert, today published global research revealing that 94% of Asia Pacific (APAC) business leaders believe Millennials will be the generation to finally achieve equal opportunities for women in the workplace.  However, they estimate it will take another 13 years.  APAC leaders are the most optimistic compared to American and European leaders who believe it will take 17 and 19 years respectively.

The report, “Seven Steps to Conscious Inclusion: A Practical Guide to Accelerating More Women into Leadership,” takes a deep-dive into generational, gender and geographical divides on attitudes to achieving gender parity and provides practical solutions to make progress faster.  It draws on insights from more than 200 global leaders and identifies structural obstacles that need to be overcome. 

Key Findings:

·         The most significant obstacle identified is an entrenched male culture, a barrier that both men and women acknowledge must change. Three-fifths (59%) of leaders interviewed said they believe the single most powerful thing an organisation can do to promote more women leaders is to create a gender-neutral culture, led by the CEO. 

·         Flexible working is key to getting more women into leadership with two-fifths (42%) agreeing.  This requires a wholesale rethinking of the workplace, particularly a shift in focus from presenteeism to performance.

·         No one is walking the talk or making the commitment: One-third (33%) of Millennial females said no one in their organisation is supporting women into leadership. At the same time, a third (32%) of male leaders, those with the power and influence to make change, said the responsibility is HRs, not theirs.

Bridget Beattie, Executive Vice President Asia Pacific Middle East at Right Management said, “It’s great to see leaders in Asia Pacific are much more optimistic about achieving gender parity in the workplace compared to their global counterparts. They believe that better policies will work and that encouraging and training women to take advantage of opportunities will stretch and develop leadership strengths. They also stress the need for companies to adopt a culture of shared power, driven from the top. These are encouraging signs, but now we need to start taking action to move closer to conscious inclusion, where people at all levels have the desire, insight and capacity to make decisions, do business and to think and act with conscious intent to include women in leadership.”

“It’s proven that the problem will not correct itself – we are stuck in a circular conversation,” said Mara Swan, ManpowerGroup’s Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity. “Getting more women into P&L roles will significantly help accelerate the talent and leadership pipeline, but this requires focus, discipline and commitment from the CEO down to make it happen. That’s why we commissioned this report - to help turn words into action.”

“Getting women into leadership isn’t just an ethical imperative. When half of the talent pool and half of consumers are female, it makes good business sense, achieves diversity of thought and better decision-making.” said Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup. “CEOs need to own this. Accountability sits with senior leadership to create and champion a culture of conscious inclusion. Articulating a talent legacy, saying how things will change and by when, helps leaders realise the seriousness of this. True change takes time, focus and discipline.” 

7 Steps to Conscious Inclusion

Based on the research and ManpowerGroup’s own experience and commitment to gender parity in the workplace, ManpowerGroup has identified seven practical steps to accelerate organisations to the tipping point that will help them achieve conscious inclusion and eventually parity.

1. Change yourself first – Believe it or don’t bother. Change must be authentic.

2. Leadership has to own it, don’t delegate it – CEOs need to own the issue, it can’t be delegated to HR.

3. Flip the question: Ask “Why Not?” – Challenge assumptions. Instead of saying “She doesn’t have the experience”, ask “what do we need to make it work?”

4. Hire people who value people – They will optimise human potential and be open to strategies that support One Life.

5. Promote a culture of conscious inclusion – Generic programs don’t work. Accountability sits with senior leadership and decision makers to promote a culture of conscious inclusion.

6. Be explicit: Women when and where – Leaders must know exactly where women need to be to achieve gender parity at all levels and in every business unit.

7. Be accountable: Set measureable objectives and achievable outcomes – Articulate a talent legacy – how things will change and what it will look like by when.

Click here to download ManpowerGroup’s Seven Steps to Conscious Inclusion: A Practical Guide to Accelerating More Women into Leadership.

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About the Research

In August 2015, ManpowerGroup commissioned a global study of 222 Established and Emerging male and female Leaders, including 72 from ManpowerGroup, to investigate attitudes towards conscious inclusion of women in senior leadership roles. Leaders were split between 111 established C-suite executives and 111 next generation leaders aged under 45 reporting into the C-suite or two levels down. There was an equal balance of males and females, across 25 countries, providing regional perspectives from the Americas, Europe and Middle East and Asia Pacific. In-depth interviews took place between 7 August - 30 September 2015, totalling more than 130 hours of audio which were transcribed, translated and analyzed using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods.

About ManpowerGroup

ManpowerGroup® (NYSE: MAN) is the world’s workforce expert, creating innovative workforce solutions for more than 65 years. As workforce experts, we connect more than 600,000 people to meaningful work across a wide range of skills and industries every day. Through our ManpowerGroup family of brands – Manpower®, Experis®, Right Management ® and ManpowerGroup® Solutions – we help more than 400,000 clients in 80 countries and territories address their critical talent needs, providing comprehensive solutions to resource, manage and develop talent. In 2015, ManpowerGroup was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the fifth consecutive year and one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies, confirming our position as the most trusted and admired brand in the industry. See how ManpowerGroup makes powering the world of work humanly possible: www.manpowergroup.com

Media contact

Lauren Knight
Buchan Consulting

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03 9866 4722