You’re doing it wrong! How women are being mismanaged in the workplace

15 March 2017 -


New research has revealed how managers are not preparing their future female leaders for opportunities further up the corporate ladder, leading to a lack of diversity at the executive level

Matt Scott

Women are not receiving the right type of support from their line managers in order to be prepared for executive roles, a new report has found.

The report from 30% Club, which interviewed male and female managers and their reports across 10 industries, found that a chronic shortage of senior-level women can be directly linked to how staff are managed through their career.

The research found that gender differences start to play out mainly in the mid part of careers. As employees move towards mid-career building stage, feedback from managers in response to the question ‘What do you do to develop her/him? This could be in current role or for future opportunities’, revealed that women are not being encouraged in the way their male peers are.

Rachel Short, Director at Why Women Work and 30% Club Steering Committee member, who co-led on the research, said: “What we’re seeing in this research is that managers find it easier to focus on a promotional trajectory for their male reports than their female reports. Female reports are being encouraged to try different things and broaden their experience while male reports are assisted in getting the critical experience that will get them a specific promotion.

“While it’s true that women get great relational and personal career boosts in this way, men are being put forward for tangible qualifications which will give them a leg up on the career ladder, such as courses, MBAs and secondments.”

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In addition to how managers seek to develop their staff, the research revealed that senior managers are not spending enough time with their reports to coach them into roles of sufficient responsibility.

Between early stages of career development and late career-building, respondents to the research said the time they spent with their manager dropped from 29% of their time for female reports and 24% for male reports, to just 5% for both sexes.

Pavita Cooper, Founder of More Difference and 30% Club Steering Committee member, who also co-led the research, said: “Things get tough at the top where senior managers are not managing their reports into a suitable level of seniority. Couple that with the fact that it is men who are better prepared into these senior roles by their managers prior to them, and we’re faced with a group of women left lacking both the managerial guidance and the know-how to step into senior executive roles.

“We need to start pulling women through for promotion much earlier so that we can establish an executive pipeline with better gender diversity.”

Opening up the pipeline

Responses from those interviewed also revealed that female managers were more open to promoting different approaches and skills which, enables greater diversity through the executive pipeline.

When managers were asked about their report: ‘If he/she were to be promoted into your role, how would he/she do things differently from you?’, female managers were revealed to be more positive about the different skills that their reports would bring to the table.

Male managers, meanwhile, struggled to respond as to what their report would do differently from them and the benefits that would bring.

“This report certainly isn’t maligning all male managers but the research has shown us that women are perceived by their reports to be more open and welcoming,” Short said. “If we can get them through the executive pipeline earlier on, we’ll be getting women into senior roles who are more encouraging of those who do things differently – which is essential for positive organisational change.”

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