- New report by Vodafone UK reveals mentorship schemes and role models are key to having a more diverse leadership group.
- Leaders who work alongside their employees and have a positive approach to flexible working also drive gender diversity in senior positions.
- Vodafone UK has 36% of senior leadership roles filled by women with the target to reach 40% by 2030.
- Video footage can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggI4_dhU8c0
Businesses looking to meet the government backed Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% of females in senior leadership roles by 2020 should invest in mentorship schemes, actively encourage role models, have visible executives who spend time with staff and demonstrate a positive approach to flexible working says a new report by Vodafone UK.
The research, conducted with YouGov with 2,000 senior decision makers from FTSE 350 companies, looked to discover behaviours and cultural trends in the workplace that have proved successful in delivering greater levels of gender diversity in senior teams.
Key findings of Vodafone’s ‘Driving Gender Diversity at the Top: 2019 & Beyond’ report include:
MENTORING AND ROLE MODELS CREATE A CULTURE OF SUPPORT
Providing mentoring and opportunities for coaching is vital in helping employees develop and look toward joining the board themselves.
Companies who have reached 30% or above of women in senior leadership roles are more likely to foster ambition, with 27% of senior leaders actively mentoring others, and 17% looking for opportunities to ‘sponsor’ more junior employees within their organisation. This is compared to companies who are under target, where just 14% of staff are mentors for others.
Karen Blackett OBE, UK Country Manager, WPP and Chairwoman, MediaCom UK & Ireland 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.”
MAKING THE C-SUITE VISIBLE
Employees working at companies who have met the target also benefit from higher interaction with executives, with 66% saying they see senior leaders always or often. At companies who are below target, 22% say they see their C-suite colleagues rarely or never.
Having a physical presence within the workplace and ensuring a level of interaction between senior staff and the wider team is vital in making senior executives and roles seem accessible. Companies with a more visible leadership team have a more fluid sharing of knowledge and information across the business.
At companies with higher rates of women in leadership roles, 28% say they learn from those on the board, and vice versa: 26% say that executive teams learn from the wider staff base. Comparatively, at businesses with lower gender diversity, only 16% think those working at a senior level learn from others.
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director at Vodafone UK commented: “We really encourage employees to interact directly with the board. That means you can get some quite interesting questions coming through, but that’s really important, because listening and learning from your employees is what enables us to stay close to our customers and to grow and to work well together.”
A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TO FLEXIBLE WORKING
The research found that companies who positively embrace flexible working are more successful in achieving the 33% target.
Flexible working at a senior level is pivotal in helping all employees embrace more fluid ways of working and helping to avoid ‘flexism’ – the subtle discrimination of those who adopt flexible working. Senior women – and men – openly working flexibly themselves can act as positive role models and drive a culture change.
Almost half (49%) of employees working at companies with more than 30% women in senior roles say that flexible working feels normal because the senior team are advocates themselves. This is compared to just 30% of employees working at businesses who are under the target.
Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins commented: “Equality at work has a huge benefit to business, the economy and society. Companies that don’t recognise this are missing out on talent. It’s great to see Vodafone promoting the importance of a representative workplace and sharing best practice. I hope to see more companies following their lead.”
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