Despite international research showing companies with women in senior management perform better financially, the proportion of female managers in Canada is dropping. Just 25% of managers are women, down from 28% in 2011. While we’re still beating the global average of 21%, the fact that our stats are moving backwards bodes badly for the future.
Worse still, the country hasn’t made much progress in the past eight years from 2004, when the proportion was 22%.
One theory for why women at the top is so important says men are more prone to competition and risk-taking, whereas women are inclined towards collaboration, caution and long-term results. A study into investment funds showed that those run by men tended to be at the top and bottom of results and, while few women were top performers, none were at the bottom either.
So how can you attract and keep women in management roles? Experts say it’s all about one word: flexibility.
A third of professional women take a break from their careers at some point, and many find it hard to come back to the workforce after a gap. Reducing this “brain drain” could require allowing long maternity leave, unpaid sabbaticals and flex-hours when women do return to work.
In the past, working a 60 hour work week was considered a bragging point, and a reason for promotion. Now companies are realizing that allowing employees to set their own hours is good for productivity. In fact, when Best Buy loosened their work rules they found productivity increased by an average of 40%.
The empirical evidence would suggest then that it’s time to identify potential future female bosses and find ways to look after and keep them.
if you need any more convincing, remember that economists at Davos speculated last year that more women on Wall Street could actually have averted the GFC.
See also: Women execs good for business
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