Women in leadership.

There is little to dispute when we say that businesses can only thrive in an increasingly competitive and complex market through great leadership. To seek out our future leaders, organisations must ensure that their brightest, most talented employees have the chance to rise to the top, and yet, this is not the case. Despite there being roughly equal numbers of men and women in the workplace, the fact that there are far fewer women advancing into senior positions compared to men suggests there are many layers of debate lying beneath something that upon first glance, appeared so simple.

The 2016 CMI Gender Pay Gap Survey reveals a stubborn reality that’s proving hard to shake; women earn 23% less on average than men. And that pay gap only increases the further up the ranks we look, with some having a difference of £16,513 between male and female CEOs and Directors. But what is the root of these figures left burning in our ears? It’s a fire that continues to be fuelled by the inequality of promotion prospects with male managers 40% more likely to be promoted than women.

A recent report released by the ILM offers insight into ambition and gender in the workplace, enabling us to navigate this challenging topic and better understand what is holding back female leaders. Alongside the more recognised and documented obstacles such as maternity and childcare-related issues, the findings revealed how female managers are often hindered from career advancement through a lack of self-belief and confidence.

Climbing the career ladder is notoriously challenging, and, when applying for a more demanding role, any form of hesitation will inevitably place someone at a disadvantage. When acknowledging their own confidence, 70% of men recognise themselves as having high or quite high levels of self-confidence, compared to only 50% of women. It is this confidence, or lack thereof, that has a direct effect upon career ambitions. Even with the same skills and experience as a male colleague, a woman with low levels of confidence will be more likely to settle for less, and have an overall lower expectation of reaching a leadership role, often setting their sights lower and limiting their ambitions.

At the Leadership Trust, we encourage inclusive, high impact leadership development with the belief that all employers and individuals should be able to achieve their full potential. Our approaches can meet the varying needs of individuals to ultimately build their levels of confidence so they can find their place within an organisation and make their mark, encouraging them to realise their leadership potential, regardless of gender.

Although redressing the gender balance is a problem without an immediate fix, by providing leadership skills for all, organisations are able to build confident, ambitious and diverse teams that can achieve a competitive advantage. Diversity broadens the mix of skills and knowledge. It fires up innovation. It enables organisations to capitalise on the skills of all their staff at every level, rather than only half of the talent available to them.


Businesses ultimately have an opportunity to seize the initiative and create truly empowering and effective leadership. Realising your full potential should not be exclusive to your gender, and that is simple.

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