We join the conversation as Allie and Lorna discuss feeder roles, and some underwhelming stats. Listen to the whole conversation on Spotify, where Lorna details how we can all be better at championing, promoting and acting on the foundations of diversity and change.
Allie Nawrat: Why do you think that there’s still an issue around those feeder roles? Because I think in the report, if I remember correctly, it talks about how having a female CEO really does…all women create a difference, but having a female CEO in particular makes an exponential difference around diversity in general. So why is there an issue around these feeder roles, do you think?
Lorna Fitzsimons: Because people are not choosing to appoint women. But it’s deeper than that. So if we go into that, girls have better qualifications leaving school than men across the world, and certainly in the Western Hemisphere, okay, and certainly in the UK. More women have degrees across the world; 60% of global degrees [are] held by women. Okay, so women are in the workforce, they are better qualified, okay.
In America and in the UK, only 40% of working women have children at home between naught and 18. Only 40% of working women have children at home between 0 and 18. So it’s not because we’re not in the workforce, it’s not because we’re not qualified. And it’s not because of our caring responsibilities. The reason why we’re not being promoted is because people are choosing not to promote us. It is really simple.
So if you look at our research, if you have a female chief executive, she has more female members on the executive committee. She has more women in profit and loss roles, and she has more women as executive directors, sitting on the actual PLC board. It shows it can be done. And if you have a female chief executive, it is done.
AN: Yeah, definitely. It’s just so demoralizing. But it’s that simple, but it’s still not happening. Obviously, as you said, a lot of this is very disappointing. It’s not really changed since the pandemic, if anything, there’s been a lot of talk about how the pandemic has made the split between women and men worse, women have obviously taken on more caregiving responsibilities, not necessarily to do with children, but to do with older relatives. I wonder if there is anything in this seventh report, the 2022 report, that in any way gave you reason for optimism?
LF: Quite frankly, no. Actually what it says is that we’re busy on a hamster wheel. And, if you take the fact that certainly in the United Kingdom, we’ve got the most constricted labor market in our economic history. We have 3.3 million less workers in the UK than we did before COVID-19. Some of it is Brexit exit, some of it is restricted work visas, some of it is higher than normal retirement because of COVID-19. And some of it is because of falling birth rates.
And then you’ve got the fact that more women are retiring early out of that proportion of early retirements, then you’ve got the fact that the coming workforce, the research shows in the Girls Day School Trust report a couple of weeks ago, that girls both in the state school sector in the UK, and the independent school sector between nine and 18, want to have really impactful careers, want to make a difference. But look up, don’t see any role models, if it looks like that [they’re] not interested.
And so we are playing not with just one hand behind our back because we’re not promoting the women we’ve got, we’re playing with another hand behind our back because actually the coming workforce look up and say that’s not for me. No thanks. So if we think it’s hard now, it’s gonna get even harder if we don’t address this…
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