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Millennials see equality ahead

Wednesday December 23, 2015 Written by  Retain Canada
Ninety-seven per cent of Millennials believe they’ll be the generation to achieve equal opportunities for women in the workplace.

However, according to new research from ManpowerGroup, this demographic is pragmatic about the timeline for achieving this equality, estimating it will take another 21 years.

The most optimistic Millennials were established male leaders. This group estimates the playing field will be level in the next 14 years, despite the fact they hold the power and influence at a time when progress is stalling.

The report, titled 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.

The most significant obstacle identified is an entrenched male culture – a barrier that even men acknowledged must change. Three-fifths of leaders interviewed (59 per cent) said they believe the single most powerful thing an organization can do to promote more women leaders is to create a gender-neutral culture, led by the CEO. Two-fifths (42 per cent) agreed that flexible working is key to getting more women into leadership. This requires a wholesale rethinking of the workplace, particularly a shift in focus from presenteeism to performance.

"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 of global strategy and talent, and co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity. "Increasing representation by putting more women in support roles like communications and HR is just not good enough anymore. That is not shifting the needle. Getting more women into P&L roles will significantly help accelerate the talent and leadership pipeline. 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, achieving diversity of thought and better decision-making,” said Jonas Prising, CEO of 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 realize the seriousness of this. True change takes time, focus and discipline."

In August, 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 45 and under reporting into the C-suite or two levels down. Participants offered 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 Aug. 7 and Sept. 30,  totalling more than 130 hours of audio. That audio was transcribed, translated and analyzed using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods.

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