You spoke, we listened.
Last month, we put the call out to our community to tell us about their experiences with leadership. In the space of 48 hours, we had more than 2,700 responses. We also conducted interviews with nine senior leaders from various sectors and collectively received over 4,500 comments and invaluable insights.
We wanted to do this research in partnership with BSchool and CLA (Centre for Leadership Advantage) to find out more about what the challenges women are facing in moving up, but to also understand what Business Chicks can do to be part of the solution and to help more women into leadership.
We wanted to understand what women believe they need to achieve their career aspirations and to step into leadership on a much larger scale.
There are a lot of reports and calls out there talking about why we need more women in leadership, and we talk about glass ceilings, but no one’s asking women and delving into what’s really stopping them and how we can best set women up to get there.
Here’s what you identified as the five biggest challenges facing women when pursuing career goals:
1. Having opportunities for promotion (the ongoing existence of the glass ceiling, ‘old boys clubs’ and being excluded from consideration for roles on the basis of being female);
“We can keep knocking on the door, but the handle is on the inside. If men don’t take part and let us in, we can knock all we like but nothing will change” (Survey respondent)
2. Dealing with unconscious (or conscious) bias, including unfair perceptions that others have of their abilities and potential as leaders;
“I feel we’re only starting our journey of fighting for our rights, and influencing mindsets to correct certain stereotypes. I personally struggle most in my full time job with the lack of respect and attitudes from my male colleagues in a technology based business” (Survey respondent)
3. Multiple role conflict, encompassing parental and other carer responsibilities and the many associated issues (returning to work after parental leave, limited access and expense of child care, emotional and physical burden);
“Whilst it’s awesome society is evolving to accept women in leadership, what I think we’re yet to figure out is how to successfully support women in these roles to also play a critical leadership role as a mum” (Survey respondent)
4. Women’s own mindset (internalised feelings of self-doubt, lacking confidence to challenge the status quo);
“The most critical thing we need to challenge is how we feel about our ability to lead, but more importantly whether we feel worthy to be a leader” (Survey respondent),
5. Lack of support by other women in business (either due to having minimal female role models, limited access to networks of women, or even from experiencing negative behaviour by women who have been successful in attaining their own goals, but who for various reasons do not mentor, advocate for or support other women in their careers)
“I’ve noticed that once women get to the top, they don’t pass it on to help others… instead we keep pushing men to make the change. Women are just as important in supporting one another” (Survey respondent).
At Business Chicks we’re all about helping women to find their power and reach their potential and now, we can do even more of that important work. Having heard from so many women on this topic, our commitment is to use this insight to provide action and to bring real, practical solutions to women in business. The things we are working on and which you can expect to hear more about are all designed to give you the practical skills that you see as being most critical and relevant to your success.
So what’s next? Well, watch this space …
A huge thank you to our awesome, talented and fearless community for taking part in our leadership survey (and being so quick to respond). We love you!