Glass ceiling still exists in business

By Hannah Brenton

Almost three-quarters of business women still believe in a glass ceiling, new research by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) suggests.

ILM surveyed 2,960 managers – both male and female – and found that 47% of women thought the government should introduce boardroom quotas.

In contrast, only 38% of men said they believe in a glass ceiling, while 24% agreed with the imposition of quotas.

Over a third of women surveyed, 36%, said they thought their gender had hindered their career. Among women over 45, the figure rose to 44%.

And 62% of women thought that ‘positive action’ should be undertaken to increase the number of women in senior roles; 42% of men agreed.

The report also found that women are generally less confident about promotion than men. Fifty per cent of women managers described themselves as having ‘high’ or ‘quite high’ confidence, compared to 70% of men.

The research comes ahead of the publication of the government’s review of gender equality, headed by Lord Davies of Abersoch, due later this week.

Lord Davies is expected to rule out boardroom quotas but instead call for targets to see women reach the highest positions. If these targets are not met, tough measures are set to be imposed.

The proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards in the UK currently sits at 12.5%.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM, said her company’s research revealed the “glacial progress” of gender equality in the UK but argued that quotas were not the fix.

“Quotas may be seen as the quickest solution and some countries, notably Norway, have introduced them with some success,” she said.

“The imposition of boardroom quotas in the UK would be an admission of failure for leaders.

“If early predictions about the Lord Davies review are correct, UK plc has two years to increase the number of women on their boards.

“Rather than waiting for external legislation, now is the time for employers to set voluntary targets for female representation at board and senior management level, and hold people accountable for meeting them.”