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Businesses face female management shortage

PM News
March 9, 2011

Results from a survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) Victoria & Tasmania have revealed a major concern about the retention of women in the workforce. Eighty-five percent of more than 3,000 executives surveyed believe ‘more needs to be done’ to keep women in the workforce, supported by 80 percent of CEOs/Board directors surveyed and 87 percent of senior managers.

“Australia’s ageing population and resources rich economy mean that employers are no longer confident of accessing the skills they need to drive profits and performance. In this business environment, we will see more organisations make it a strategic priority to stop the female ‘brain drain’,” said Susan Heron, CEO of AIM VT.

The ‘Retaining Women in the Workforce’ survey, where 38 percent of participants were men, indicated that women’s skills and capabilities as managers are more highly rated than those of their male counterparts across 16 performance indicators such as leadership, decision making and customer focus. Only the ‘problem solving’ measure saw men equal women.

However, Heron reported that although more than 50 percent of Australia’s tertiary graduates are women, less than 15 percent of senior executives were female: “That underutilisation of talent is simply not sustainable.”

The survey found that ‘flexible working arrangements’ was the most important factor to retain women in the workforce, followed by ‘workplace culture’ and ‘childcare support’. More than 70 percent of respondents indicated that having a child affects a woman’s ability to achieve her career goals, and many said their organisation’s practices for transitioning women back to work after maternity leave needed improvement.

The top three reasons for why respondents thought there were fewer women in senior executive positions were ‘family commitments’ (67%), ‘workplace culture’ (61%) and ‘inflexible working arrangements’ (54%).

Other key factors were equal pay (which 31 percent more women than men found to be an issue), Board quotas (with 62 percent of women favouring ‘Industry and business groups to set voluntary targets for organisations to meet’), the importance of a woman’s contribution to the household income, and expected working life, with more than two-thirds of women considering it normal for women to work until retirement age.

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2 thoughts on “Businesses face female management shortage

  1. For intelligent individuals you destroy the credibilty of your argument by peddling obviously spurious statistics: comparing a leading and flawed infusing female graduates with a 30+ year trailing indicator % male executives. Make a case worth arguing.

  2. Mark, I assume you refer to:

    < However, Heron reported that although more than 50 percent of Australia’s tertiary graduates are women, less than 15 percent of senior executives were female: “That underutilisation of talent is simply not sustainable.” >

    The comment is correctly attributed to Susan Heron and represents her view.

    However, there are two points I’d like to make:
    1) I agree with your point that the current female graduate level will have no bearing on the gender ratio of senior executive until at least a decade or so into the future; but

    2) Senior executives no longer need 30 years experience out of university. I have seen executives as young as 35. Considering Gen X had a higher ratio of femal graduates than the previous era, we should see a jump in female senior executive levels. It would be interesting to track this in a generational context.

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