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Only 18% of firms have programmes to develop women

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Industry leaders are incredibly optimistic about closing the gender gap.

According to EY’s new report, 69% believe that they will achieve gender parity on their boards within the next 25 years.

Unfortunately, looks like not much is being done to achieve this.

Surveying 350 C-suite executives from the top 200 companies in seven industries across 51 countries including Singapore, the report revealed that only 18% have structured programs to identify and develop women in their firms.

Among the industries, banking and capital markets lead the way in addressing gender parity with 33% having structured programs in place to advance women in the workplace.

The automotive industry comes in second with 22% while the insurance industry performs the lowest with only 8% having formal programs.

Yet again, Asia Pacific lags behind. The report found that of those with structured programs in place, 44 % are in EMEA, compared to 28% in the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

This is despite 55% of respondents acknowledging the need to do more to attract, retain and promote women to build the pipeline of future leaders.

ALSO READ: What HR leaders from Digi, MasterCard, Hilton are pledging this International Women’s Day

Max Loh, Asean and Singapore managing partner at EY said: “The talent is there and more needs to be done to ensure female professionals make it to the top: more structured programs, more measurement and more reporting.

“Companies should ask their female employees what support, programs and policies they would like to see in the workplace.”

The research also found that men and women view gender diversity in different ways.

A shortage of female candidates was cited as the top obstacle to gender parity by 43% of men compared to only 7% of women.

To women, key obstacles were identified as an unsupportive culture (28%), organisational bias (28%) and the conflicts of raising a family (24%).

“To support and advance women into top leadership, this issue must be understood at all levels of the organisation. If women don’t get the right opportunities and support at the beginning and middle of their careers, their chances of making it into top roles are even slimmer,” Loh added.

“It’s about identifying high-potential female talent, creating formal and informal programs to sponsor and provide the right opportunities, and to put measurement systems in place to record progress.”

While both genders disagree on the obstacles, both recognise the importance of creating a supportive corporate culture as an enabler of women’s careers (59% of men and 40% of women). Mentoring from senior leaders and strong female role models were also cited as top enablers.

“There is a widespread reality disconnect across industries. Companies believe they are making progress toward their gender diversity goals, but not actively planning to increase their female leaders in the near future. It’s time for each of us to think critically about how we’re contributing to the solution and not perpetuating the problem. Gender parity won’t be achieved without deliberate action,”  Loh said.

Image: Shutterstock

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