Men unsure about women at the top

Sep 10 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Male opinion is equally divided on whether having significantly more women in leadership positions would make any difference to the performance of their organisation, according to a new survey.

Figures from the upcoming HR Gateway / ILM survey on Women and Leadership suggest that half (51 per cent) of men feel that having women at the top would make no difference to the performance of their organisation compared to the other half (49 per cent) who feel they would.

When women were asked the same question, only 13 per cent said that it would make no difference.

So does this suggest that many men in middle to higher management positions do not see women's journey up the career ladder as necessarily important?

Dee Waite, director of personal development at the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) feels that it does. Many men need to shift their perspective of business if women are to break through to the top, she argues.

"Business has survived up to this point by aggression and men see the business world in this way. Women offer a view of business which is more people centred something men compartmentalise as for the home.

"Business is becoming more people-centred for a range of reasons and so men need to respond. Both men and women have the skills it is just that we are pigeon-holed by gender at work, she said.

Jonathan Gosling, director of the Centre for Leadership Studies agrees. Male managers need to change their viewpoint, he says. Women at the top would make a difference to business performance, as many companies are finding.

"Chiefly because the talent pool would be that much larger and because gender diversity would encourage openness to other kinds of difference such as creativity.

"There is also evidence to show that companies in trouble appoint more women to leadership positions - including main board directorships - as one of the more consistent recovery measures, he says.

For best-selling leadership author, David Taylor, it is a matter of the qualities female leaders bring to a company. For him it is a matter of women being able to care more than men:

"They would care more - for their customers, for their people, for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and for our world.

"And in this next business age this is absolutely critical and customers/shareholders will make decisions depending on it - purpose, accountability and reputation, he says.