Under-representation of Women Leaders
- Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are led by women.
- Women hold just 22% of seats in parliaments globally.
- In the United Kingdom, about 23% of seats in Parliament are held by women.
- In the European Parliament, only 35% of the seats are held by women.
The percentage of women in leadership roles is even lower in the corporate world:
- A meagre 5% of the S&P 500 CEOs are women.
- Throughout Europe, women hold only 20% of board seats.
- In the United Kingdom, women hold only 21% of senior executive positions and 23% of board seats among the FTSE 100 companies.
None of these figures are close to an equal representation of 50%!
Gender Pay Gap in the UK
This year, in 2018, UK companies with 250 or more employees had to publish their gender pay gap data by 4 April on a government website. You can find out the results per company here: https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/
The gender pay gap is the percentage difference between average hourly earnings for men and women within an organisation.
The recent results show that men earn on average 14.4% more per hour than women and that men have on average a 7.6% higher bonus than women. These are the average figures. In many organisations, men earn on average up to 60% more than women!
How can this be explained?
Under the Equal Pay Act 1970, and more recently, the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to pay people unequally because they are a man or a woman. This applies to all employers, no matter how small.
So, a company might have a gender pay gap if a majority of men are in top jobs & leadership positions, despite paying male and female employees the same amount for similar roles.
What’s Stopping Women
In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within themselves. Women hold themselves back by lacking self-confidence, self-belief and a feeling of self-worth, by not raising their hands, and by pulling back when they should be leaning in. They internalise the negative messages they hear throughout their lives – the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. They lower their expectations of what they can achieve.
Getting rid of these internal barriers is critical to gaining power. They are rarely discussed and often underplayed. However, considering the impact they have on women’s lives and careers, they deserve a lot more attention. Our internal barriers only survive because we keep them alive. They are under our own control, and so it our choice to address them so that they no longer hold us back.
Tips for Women Leaders
- Decide in which area you want to get more confident first. Focus on the chosen area and the steps you need to take to build your confidence.
- Set yourself intentions and stick to them.
- Be flexible and open to feedback.
- Release unwanted thoughts.
- Practice gratitude.
- Be kind to yourself and others, and don’t mistake kindness for weakness.
- Get a coach who will help you to become more confident & resilient, unlock your full potential and increase your feeling of self-worth and self-belief.
- In addition to working with a professional coach, do not underestimate the power of being connected to other women with similar challenges relating to life, career and leadership. Research, join and attend regularly relevant events & networking groups.
- You may consider joining or setting up one of the popular Lean In Circles, which evolve around the empowerment of women in the workplace. They are linked to https://leanin.org/ and have evolved from the 2013 bestseller ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.
Sonja Kirschner is an accredited expert coach and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. She is passionate about helping different groups of people to unlock their true potential, increase their confidence and motivation so that their own performance in life, at work and in business feels great to them! Corporate clients include Raytheon, LPA Group Plc, University of East Anglia, University of East London, Cobb-Vantress, Springer Nature Digital and Joanne Webb Studio.