The Glass Ceiling Story
For International Women’s Day our CEO Diana Verde Nieto spoke at a dinner for influential female members of exclusive Marylebone members club, Home House . Inspired by the recent discovery of 500 new fairytales in Germany, Diana asks why it’s always the women that plot and scheme against each other while waiting for a handsome prince to come to the rescue? Equality for women shouldn’t be the stuff of fantasy, but it appears we have a way to go before it becomes a widespread reality. The glass ceiling still exists and although women make up 49% of the total workforce, they represent 59% of low-wage workers.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) it will take until 2056 for women and men’s earnings to reach pay parity—if the wage gap continues to close at the same pace it has for the last fifty years. While the number of women in top board positions is on the rise- female representation on the FTSE 100 main boards rose 15.4% last year- the real problem exists one step down, at management level. According to Kate Walsh of The Sunday Times, only 15% of management board roles in the FTSE 100 are held by women- 163 of 1,058 jobs. ‘Since Lord Davies…kicked off his mission to get more women in the boardroom’ she writes, ‘the number at the management level- the pipeline- has shrunk more than 2%’.
In a bid to fill senior board positions, there’s a risk women further down the line are being leapfrogged, and talent is potentially being overlooked. We also have the issue of ‘unconscious bias’ to deal with- namely that people tend to recruit in their own image, and until there are many more of us in these hiring positions we’re at an automatic disadvantage. Responsible companies are trying to address this by monitoring who hires who, and there are mentoring and sponsorship schemes to help women rise through the ranks, but it’s clear if we want this story to have a happy ending there’s more work to be done.
How do you think attitudes in the workplace could be changed for the better?