Outsourcing and the gender diversity issue
by Sue Brooks, Managing Director, Ochre House
Friday, May 18, 2012
The ever accelerating pace of change, combined with the need for sustainability, has pushed gender diversity and the women in leadership issue up the agenda for outsourced recruitment and talent management processes.
Yet in one of Ochre Houses’ recent HR Network think tanks with some of the key global and local organisations in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region (MENAT) we found there are still barriers in place for females at higher levels. Discussions at the event indicated that the majority of organisations have a real lack of women in leadership roles and are finding it difficult to make this shift. There are a number of external and internal barriers that have been identified which prevent women from reaching top roles. However, with current cultural and socio economic shifts, many organisations in the MENAT region feel there is now a real opportunity to make a difference.
Research carried out in the lead up to the think tank suggested that there are a number of reasons as to why women are prevented from reaching the top jobs. Taking the external factors, there are two key barriers to change; government practice and policy, and family and societal culture – both of which have long been recognised as inhibitors to the progression of women into leadership roles. Examples of the internal factors include: absence of role models, lack of opportunities for women and traditional male oriented social norms.
However, what was strikingly clear from the research was the recognition by senior managers of the importance for organisations in MENAT to collectively collaborate and explore how to remove some of the internal and external barriers to women’s progress to the top roles. Every single interviewee we spoke to said they believed that woman in leadership is an important issue to tackle for at least one of the following reasons:
• Organisational success is increasingly being linked to a diverse leadership group
• Some leadership behaviours more often applied by women than men have proven to enhance company performance and will be key to meet tomorrow’s business challenges
• Around half the population is female – with increasing skills gaps in the MENAT region organisations cannot afford to ignore the female talent pool
• Organisations want the best possible talent at the top and by excluding female talent pools they will not achieve this
• Women often perform better – many organisations had proof that women were outperforming some of their male colleagues, a trait attributed to their motivation to prove themselves.
• It’s important that there is the desire to tackle the issue, we just need to look at how to do this. The majority of delegates involved in the event maintained that they were committed to instituting some form of change in the next 12 months, and we’ll be helping them to develop a working group to share best practice and innovation.
It’s important that there is the desire to tackle the issue, but we now need to look at how to do this. The majority of delegates involved in the event maintained that they were committed to instituting some form of change in the next 12 months, and we’ll be helping them to develop a working group to share best practice and innovation.