Next generation diversity – developing tomorrow’s female leaders

With International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, there’s even more focus than usual on gender diversity in the workplace. From my perspective, it feels like we’ve made a lot of progress – I haven’t felt discriminated against for being a woman in my own career to date. That might change if I have family commitments to juggle with career progression, but so far, I feel like I’ve been on an equal playing field. According to our Next generation diversity – Developing tomorrow’s female leaders survey, carried out globally amongst the millennial generation, I seem to have been one of the lucky ones!

I’m what you would call a millennial. Basically that means that I was born between 1980 and 1995... in fact, right in the middle of it. I’ve worked for PwC for almost five years as an HR Consultant and I’m hopefully approaching another promotion in the next few years. Like many of my friends, I’m in the progression stage of my career – I’ve spent years learning the skills to make me technically proficient and now I’m building the experience to give me credibility and help me move further up the career ladder. So, with my mind focussed on progression, some of the research findings were particularly concerning. Of the 40,000 workers that we surveyed, all within the millennial bracket, nearly a third (29%) think that employers are too biased towards male employees when it comes to promotion.

While this is an obvious issue for us as the future female leaders, it’s also an issue for organisations. We live in image conscious times – even when choosing who we want to work for it seems. 82% of women said an employer’s policy on diversity, equality and workforce inclusion is important when deciding whether to work for an organisation. So if these women don’t feel that the reality is consistent with what they’ve been promised, then organisations are going to risk losing their best talent to competitors. This apparent disconnect between the expectations that millennials have of work and the experiences that they’re going through is disconcerting, particularly with over half saying they would completely avoid working in a particular sector if they believed it had a negative image.

Female millennials are entering the workforce in larger numbers than any of their previous generations and will be vital to an organisation’s future success. So if companies are looking to develop a strong pipeline of future women leaders, it’s absolutely essential that they keep their promises and communicate, over and again, that they are doing so. They need to make sure that people like me don’t lose faith.

If you’d like to share your experiences, please do leave a comment below. To find out more about the survey Next generation diversity – Developing tomorrow’s female leaders click here.

Sarah Passmore | HR Specialist
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