It is common knowledge that the world has a pipeline problem when it comes to elevating women into senior and executive positions.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance UK on the award-winning Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded video series, a leading careers and industry expert Sue Unerman revealed what is one of the biggest reasons for why women are being held back.
Unerman is also the co-author, alongside Kathryn Jacob, of The Glass Wall, a book that offers advice for women seeking success at work. In the book, she and Jacob gathered interviews and case studies with over 100 men and women to determine “easy-to apply strategies for success.”
“So every single case study in our book gives tips to women, but also tips to the businesses because there are so many schoolboy errors businesses make over and over again,” said Unerman, who is also the chief transformation officer at the UK’s largest media agency, Mediacom.
“Businesses are very good at promoting people who are good at getting promoted — that’s not the same as someone being promoted because they’d be good at the job into which they are getting promoted and that’s why businesses can stall. You have to listen, you have to give opportunities, you got to allow people in your team to talk about their achievements.”
It is perhaps unsurprising then that, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CEOs are more likely to be called Stephen than they are to be a woman. In fact, there are more CEOs called Steve or Stephen on the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) than there are women. In the US, only 6% of S&P 500 (^GSPC) CEO positions are held by women.
“Above all, you have to look for diversity in your succession plan, rather than just the same person as yourself,” said Unerman.
“It’s a really easy thing to do. [You could think] ‘yeah we’re going to promote you, but you need a number two who is as good as you are’ and then go out and say ‘I’m really good and I’m getting promoted so I am going to go out and find someone who is exactly like me.’ So then you get streams and streams of people just trying to be the person who they work for. That’s a massive weakness in succession management.
“And that’s why teams that do have diversity, succeed. What we say at Mediacom is that we want people to join to add to our playlist, not just duplicate it.”
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded video series as well as Yahoo Finance UK’s dedicated work and management section and LinkedIn page for more career tips and coverage.