Right, time for a quick game.
How many of these names do you recognise?
Larry Page & Sergey Brin
You might have struggled with the last two – Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google and Evan Spiegel is the CEO of Snapchat – but the rest you knew instantly.
Now look at this list. Same game. How many do you recognise?
One? Two at a push?
You might be surprised to know that –
Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube
Ginny Rometty is the Chair, President and CEO of IBM
Sheryl Sandberg is the CEO of Facebook
Marillyn Hewson is the Chair, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin
Angela Ahrendts was the SVP of Retail at Apple until April
Safra Catz is co-CEO of Oracle
Mary Barra is the Chair and CEO of General Motors
We’re not trying to catch you out, we’re just putting it out there.
The Lionesses Roar
It’s not just at the upper echelons of the global business community where women are ruling the roost.
At the time of writing, the Women’s World Cup is drawing to a close and England have just been narrowly beaten by the USA, the reigning world champions. You may be surprised to know that it was the most watched television programme of the year with a peak audience of 11.7m – that’s 50.8% of the available TV audience.
Football is now the biggest women’s team sport in the UK with over three million active players and instead of growing up with the pipe dream of being Ronaldo, Harry Kane or Lionel Messi, they grow up with the very real incentive of actually being the next Steph Haughton, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Fran Kirby, Jill Scott, Nikita Parris, Ellen White, Jordan Nobbs, Toni Duggan, Carly Telford or Georgia Stanway. Take your pick.
Of the top 20 Twitter accounts as at June 21st 2019 according to Brandwatch, half are women – Shakira (51.2m followers), Britney Spears (56.4m), Selena Gomez (57.8m), Kim Kardashian West (61m), Ariana Grande (63.4m), Ellen DeGeneres (77.9m), Lady Gaga (78.8m), Taylor Swift (83.5m), Rhianna (91.6m) and Katy Perry (107.6m).
In April 2019, there were 210 female MPs in the House of Commons out of a total of 650. That’s as near as makes no difference a third of all MPs and that number has never been higher.
Over the last few years, a series of uncomfortable realities – many in the public glare but many more still behind closed doors – have encouraged women to speak out and say ‘It’s not OK anymore. Actually it’s never been OK but now it’s our time to speak out and take positive action’ and that’s exactly what’s happening.
But What About The World Of Work?
Last year, we were talking to one of our clients who happened to mention that they were going to an awards ceremony called CRN Women in Channel Awards which celebrates the achievements of women in the IT sector.
It got us thinking – does there need to be award ceremonies specifically for women? The collective response to the two lists at the top of this blog suggests there probably does, at least for now.
There’s no doubt that we’re heading in the right direction in that there are lots of women in powerful positions at companies of all sizes but as a society there’s plenty more that can – and will – be done. Collectively we need to address the issue of gender imbalance and ensuring that women in business can break through the glass ceiling and the concrete walls*, rise up from the sticky floors* and navigate around the career labyrinth* and become household names.
* Note: these metaphors were copied directly from an article in Forbes written by leadership expert Audrey Murrell, not us.
Taking IT as a microcosm of recruitment as a whole, a 2018 survey by Information Age told us that ‘technology is one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting industries but it continues to be blighted by one disheartening problem – only 17% of UK roles are filled by women.’
Interestingly, research suggests that businesses that take gender equality seriously perform better across the board.
Statistics pulled together by fitsmallbusiness.com in the US from data that came from sources including the US Census Bureau, Dow Jones and the Harvard Business Review let us know why female entrepreneurs are more successful than their male counterparts:
- Female-owned firms generate higher revenues
- Female-owned firms create more jobs than their male-owned peers
- Women executives significantly improve start-up company performance
- Women are more effective in senior leadership roles
- Women have a larger appetite for growth
What More Can Be Done?
It’s fair to say that we’re not experts in this field but as far as we can tell, it’s about education, both in actual educational establishments and in the office. Much more can be done at industry level and we need to find out how companies can take steps to ensure that their culture doesn’t unconsciously discourage women from joining or advancing. We also wonder if it’s even deemed patronising to highlight this issue in the first place?
Vodafone is one company who have been actively looking at recruiting more women into their tech departments. Before 2017, a job ad for a Cloud Services Engineer would read:
Seeking outstanding individuals with a passion for mission-critical technology to help on our aggressive journey to improve our premier network and create synergy.
These are male-oriented words and now, they scan every job ad to ensure there’s no gender bias and to encourage more women to apply. Now, the same ad would look like this:
Seeking extraordinary individuals with a real passion for critical technology to help on our bold journey to improve our top-tier network and help create alignment.
A three-month trial in 2017 increased the number of women they recruited by 7%. They even went as far as removing the words ‘competitive salary’ from their job adverts.
Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Resourcing and Employer Brand at Vodafone said that at first ‘We thought this phrase would attract a lot of candidates, but apparently it is putting women off. They don’t care whether they’re making more money than others — they just want to be treated fairly.’
Award-winning business and technology journalist Jane Bird writes; ‘Some companies are attempting to correct the imbalance with measures such as training staff in unconscious bias awareness, deleting gender from CVs, insisting that shortlists include women, improving referral incentives, introducing retraining programmes for returners, enhancing maternity rights and showcasing female role models on social media. Changing job adverts is a small but effective part of the push to change the industry’s gender balance.’
It seems strange that in 2019 we still have to have conversations about pay inequality, gender diversity and the reasons for creating safe, inclusive and respectful corporate cultures that serve as a catalyst for younger generations to know that they can do whatever they want to do without fear.
Gender inequality will only become gender equality when hiring women – especially in C-Suite positions – isn’t simply seen as ticking a quota box and waiting for the numbers to change. It will happen when diversity and inclusion at the top of the organisational ladder are treated as a top priority in business, higher education and government.
Catch you soon.