The Here is the City poll on “Sexism in the City” has just been released. I will dedicate a couple of blogs in analyzing the numbers, as the figures are quite revealing in terms of attitudes, for both genders.
When asked “Do you think that women are under-represented in your firm as a whole”, a slim majority of women said Yes (53.7%); for men, 58.6% said no.
More interestingly, however, is how revealing the next answer is when asked “Do you think that women are under-represented in senior leadership positions at your firm?” both the majority of women (85.1%) AND men (51.0%) agreed. The popular notion that men are blind to the fact that women are not represented in the higher ranks of business appears to no longer be valid for the City of London.
For the questions revolving around the why’s of women not moving up the ranks, attitude, capability and ambition did not play a role for either gender.
The rifts in agreement start showing around the “women choosing family over career” question. Female respondents were not sure that that was the case, with 39.8% saying that maybe that is the case and 34.8% agreeing that that was a definite cause for women falling off the career track. For men, over 52% said that they agreed that choosing family over career derailed women. However, interestingly, 31.1% also said maybe. I wonder if the number of men not sure that that is the case is increasing? It would have been interesting to have the results for any previous such surveys to compare attitudinal shifts…
The real cruncher was the question that alluded that women “were denied the opportunity to progress”. Overwhelmingly nearly 60% of female respondents said that was their belief. For men, however, if was the complete opposite: 58.1% said No, women were not denied progression opportunities.
This is in direct correlation with what our research in writing “Your Loss: How to Win Back your Female Talent” indicated. Women left their careers as a result of lack of progression, lack of fulfillment and a tendency to be left unheard.
The Sexism in the City is underlining the complete gender-blindness of the City of London in understanding what women want from their careers, and that a successful career progression is possible. However, it is not awarded to them, as odds are still stacked against women.
Career progression has to take a particular, linear path. Throw the maternity issue in, and this is hurdle number 1. Then, CVs have to look a particular way, with specific milestones along the way to prove capabilities. However, as woman, you are expected to do this when mostly employed in support functions (i.e. Marketing, Human Resources, etc) and when access to running a business (with Profit and Loss responsibilities) is left for the real business leaders – men. Respondents to our research highlighted that gender stereotyping lead to them not being considered and put forward to high-visibility, and even, high-risk roles. And access to the “old boys club”, is another route that is left clearly shut for women….
It is no surprise, then, that women are leaving the City in their well-heeled stilettos and entering the path to entrepreneurship or running a portfolio career. Where, quite magically, they do make it all work and where parental responsibilities do not stand in their way. It is a shame that this gender-blindness still exists. Bu then again, this is the reason why we wrote our book for men to understand what women want and how they can let them progress in business. Our Gender-Savvy Toolkit offers a practical toolkit to ensure that male managers work outside their gender-biased lens, and offers a step-by-step approach to ensure they offer women a level playing field where they can also be just as a successful as them.