Inspired By Female Leadership
13th July 2021
by Cara Gardiner
I'm a second-year Dundee University undergraduate studying Business Management, as part of my course I gained intern experience with TMM Recruitment. As a female, I want to be treated on merit in the workplace and while the issue of equal opportunities for women in executive roles is topical, it's also very relevant to me as I look beyond graduation, full of hope that my working life will be a challenging and fulfilling career in business.
The Challenges That Women Encounter
Before meeting the directors at TMM Recruitment I hadn't spent much time considering the hurdles to success for women. Perhaps like so much in life, if you haven't experienced something – it never occurs to you.
But through discussions around the target audience and messaging for the company's new executive leadership website I learned about the heavily weighted male application rate for leadership roles and the challenges for women returners finding part-time appointments.
I was also surprised to learn about the confidence gap, where women struggle to believe they are qualified enough when considering senior roles (and therefore don't apply), and how men are more likely to ask for pay rises and promotions.
The glass ceiling is another factor that causes a loss of confidence amongst ambitious female employees when it appears there's an invisible barrier to promotion as all the leadership positions are filled by men. My research also introduced me to the 'broken rung' phenomenon, where women are disproportionately stuck below management grade after graduating from university, with more women than men starting in entry-level positions – you can appreciate why this particularly caught my attention!
Opportunities For Women To Succeed
Attitudes and opportunities are evolving and the value of diversity is finally being recognised. The Alexander Hamilton review reports 'On average, the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and FTSE 350 have all reached the target of women holding 33% of board positions by the end of 2020 and this target has been achieved by 220 of the 350 companies involved, rising from just 53 companies in 2015.'
While there's a way to go, the face of business is changing and it is highly motivating for career-minded women like me.
When I researched 'leadership skills portrayed by women and men', I was encouraged to learn that women scored higher on certain key leadership capabilities than men and there's a growing body of research to support what we all intuitively know - creativity, problem-solving and lateral thinking are enhanced through greater diversity. This is leading companies to take a different approach to their leadership recruitment, transitioning from an outlook that someone is needed who "fits in" to finding someone who brings different experiences, perspectives, and a fresh approach to solving problems.
In my opinion, wealth management is a key industry that should encourage women into executive positions. Currently, there is a ratio of 6:1 male to female in the industry. However, there is massive potential for women to change that statistic and work in high-powered roles in finance companies. The need for female management in this industry is clear, as about 53% of UK millionaires are forecast to be female by 2025. If over half the UK's millionaires are women, this demonstrates their clear business acumen, and this only builds a stronger case for other females to manage their personal finances within the wealth management industry and show off their leadership and decision-making abilities.
Influential Female Role Models
Perhaps I've just become more attuned to it, but it seems to me that during the Covid-19 pandemic the leadership traits of women have been appreciated and celebrated, from the additional responsibilities placed on working mums juggling home teaching, caring, and careers to the world-leading approach taken by Jacinda Ahern which has resulted in New Zealand recording minimal Covid-19 deaths.
And closer to home, as an Aberdeen FC fan, the news about Zoe Ogilvie becoming the first female director in the club's 118-year history is inspirational. By bringing Zoe onboard the club is diversifying and accepting new pathways of leadership which could result in a brighter future for the club and pave the way for other women to progress to the board room.
Working alongside female leaders at TMM Recruitment I have gained newfound confidence which has made me excited about my future potential in leadership. The female role models welcomed me into the company and helped to build my confidence by providing detailed feedback on the projects I completed for the business and discussing future career paths and personal experiences that I would like to investigate further.
My time at TMM Recruitment has shown me that I can apply for relevant junior executive roles when I have gained sufficient experience as I now have a greater belief in myself and my abilities!