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We can’t wait until 2186 to close the gender pay gap – Ann Francke, Chartered Management Institute CEO

CMI Women

Ann Francke is CEO at the CMI (Chartered Management Institute), author of the FT Guide to Management and she also acts as a strategic adviser for US rich social media platform, Tongal. Prior to this, Ann was Global Managing Director for BSI (British Standards Institution). She began her career as a marketer and has held senior roles in Yell, Boots, Mars and Procter & Gamble. 

Ann Francke
Ann Francke

“…Rather than risk being branded aggressive and pushy, most women simply put up and shut up. And hope that they will somehow get promoted through their hard work and sheer competence. But they shouldn’t hold their breath because that rarely happens – as our data shows, and the more enlightened employers know it…”

Diverse leaders, developing diverse teams, deliver better results

The Chartered Management Institute believes diversity is a foundation stone for good leadership and management – diverse leaders, developing diverse teams, deliver better results. For the past 40 years, we’ve been active in supporting Government and organisations tackle the gender pay gap but there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve gender balance in the workplace.

The World Economic Forum recently calculated that the gender pay gap will take 170 years to close around the world. Waiting until 2186 isn’t just bad news for women, but for business too, with UBS recently reporting that tackling gender inequality could add £10 trillion to the world economy.

The gender pay gap is a complex and stubborn issue. The US election result confirms fears that the gender pay gap will dog us for years to come as men – and women – won’t relinquish power and gender stereotypes. However, moves are underway to tackle the many underlying causes and CMI is at the forefront with the launch of the CMI Women campaign in November 2016. Addressing issues like unconscious bias, and inspiring emerging leaders and nurturing female talent in the middle is critical to closing the gender pay gap.

Promotion and unconscious bias

While women comprise 73% of the workforce in entry and junior level roles, female representation drops to 42% at the level of senior management, with just 32% of director level posts being held by women. Male managers are 40% more likely to be promoted than women. Too many women still don’t ask, but perhaps the more interesting thing is what happens when women DO ask for that promotion. 

There are countless tales I know of women who’ve suffered a backlash in the workplace if they have the audacity to ask for a promotion. Take the global financial services exec who was accused of putting herself above the company because after patiently watching all her male colleagues advance while she stood still, she went ahead and asked for a promotion. She got it – along with coaching to tone down her ‘aggressive and selfish’ behaviour.

Putting up and shutting up

Ann Francke - CMIRather than risk being branded aggressive and pushy, most women simply put up and shut up. And hope that they will somehow get promoted through their hard work and sheer competence. But they shouldn’t hold their breath because that rarely happens – as our data shows, and the more enlightened employers know it.

One diversity award-winning male professional recounted how he had three candidates for a partner role – two men and one woman. The men were stopping by his desk on a weekly basis, lobbying him why they were clearly the best choice. The woman – whom he felt was the most qualified – never said a word. When he asked her why she didn’t approach him, she said it was because she didn’t want to appear pushy and preferred to let her results speak for themselves. She got the partnership – but only because he recognised her reluctance to seek it and reached out. 

Cultural bias

One excuse that regularly rears its head to explain unequal levels of pay is the ‘motherhood penalty’ – mums taking a break from the office and returning part time. That idea doesn’t wash when we see that this penalty affects not just mothers, but all women. The reasons for that are cultural.

A good example of this is the expectation that a women aged 30-40 already has, or will soon be having children, and therefore shouldn’t be put forward for a role involving extensive foreign travel. While such decisions might be taken in best faith, “it will help her balance her work and family life,” it’s a decision that the individual ought to take herself. These are the decisions that profoundly alter careers and achievements and contribute to the low numbers of women moving through the talent pipeline. 

Changing the culture

I believe employers have a massive role to play in changing workplace culture, but they need to recognise it as a problem. They need to implement proactive sponsorship programmes for talented women, and engage men as agents of implementing this change. This can be achieved by appointing senior execs (most of which are already men) as advocates for women when promotions come up, and encourage women to put themselves forward.

But what can women do to help move this along? Have the nerve to do what men do naturally – showcase their achievements and ask for promotion. Women need to have the confidence to unlock their potential. One way to achieve this is through developing their management and leadership skills.

In November 2016, we’re launching our CMI Women campaign with the aim of a 50/50 share of management roles between men and women by 2024. To do this we need 1.5m new female managers over this period, compared to 430,000 new male managers.

Whilst the global gender pay gap may not close until 2186, we’re working towards a time much closer in the future when UK employers realise the value of gender balance at all levels in their organisations.

For more information on the CMI Women campaign and to get involved, visit: www.managers.org.uk/cmiwomen






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