Today is the centenary of the UK Representation of the People Act, which gave women over 30, with property, the right to vote in Parliamentary elections.
In stark contrast to other recent gender related news, coverage of the key protagonists is heroic. The suffragettes were a core group of people with no authority carrying out multiple acts of leadership to bring about a change.
At the Leadership Trust we call that using personal power to win hearts and minds. There’s something really interesting about what it was that made those particular women fight for what was rightfully theirs. 100 years on there is still work to do on gender equality. We all face issues in our lives, personal and professional, that we can see need change but we don’t step up. Why is that? Awareness? Fear? Lack of self confidence? Or is it tenacity, are the problems just too great to fight alone?
Our leadership development programmes tackle all those barriers head on. We’d love to think we are developing the suffragettes of tomorrow but more men than women attend our programmes. We ran some numbers looking at thousands of delegates going back to 2010. Staggeringly 71% are men and only 29% are women. And that’s been consistently the case, there’s little trend data to show an improvement.
What’s particularly interesting is that our entry level leadership programme, Leadership Foundations, is pretty much a 50/50 split between men and women. By the time we get to Director level it’s 3:1 men.
Why is that? What’s stopping women from accessing what we do? Are we in some way complicit in maintaining the status quo? We don’t know the answers so today we are starting a conversation with businesses to make sure our programmes are fully accessible to women. We are sure that leadership development has a part to play in gender equality, we want to make it count.
We are conducting a survey to explore what leadership looks like in the workplace and the lives of individuals of different ages, backgrounds and gender. If you complete our survey you will be given the opportunity to enter into our prize draw to win a place on our flagship Leadership in Management programme, worth £4,200.
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