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CMI research reveals chasm between male and female managers’ views on need for more gender-balanced leadership and opportunities

Ann Francke, Chief Executive, Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
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Analysis by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that despite ongoing efforts and activity towards gender equality, workplace gender equity remains elusive. The research has also revealed that passive and even active resistance to gender equality, particularly from male managers, is prevalent. 

In the week in which what were widely regarded as sexist remarks were made at an AGM directed towards the Aviva Chief Executive, Amanda Blanc, the UK has a long way to go towards gender-balance across organisations says CMI CEO, Ann Francke. Gender-balance is vital for future economic growth and social progress.

The findings overall indicated that males are significantly more likely than females (33% vs. 13%) to feel too much effort is being focussed on ensuring a workplace gender balance is achieved – a clear indication of male backlash, and resistance to gender equality.

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of CMI, commented:

“Sexist remarks directed at Amanda Blanc, CEO of Aviva, at their AGM are just this week’s highly public example of the inequalities that exist at every level of organisations. We have a long way to go still, yet CMI data is starting to pick up resistance and perhaps even early signs of backlash amongst many men. 

Men have the potential to be great allies in achieving gender balance. But there has been too little effort devoted to communicating the enormous benefits that greater equity offers including for better business and organisational performance as all talent is better developed and deployed.

Progress is far too slow, and these concerning findings even suggest that the prospect of us regressing is ever-present. Poor recent progress on gender pay gaps reveal the uphill challenge we still face. If anything, many are over-optimistic on the rate of current progress and the distance yet to be travelled. Yet, we know how important gender-balance is and what works to make a positive difference.”

The findings come as CMI hosts its first Women’s Conference on Thursday 19th May 2022. Over 1,500 individuals will take part with a list of speakers that includes our Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, Labour MP Stella Creasy; Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Bloomberg, Pamela Hutchinson; and Group Chief Executive Officer of NatWest Group, Alison Rose. 

The Conference will explore how the UK’s business community, public and voluntary sectors can best achieve greater success through more balanced opportunities, progression and leadership. 

There are clear opportunity divides between women and male managers with children revealed within the survey:

Having a child is the primary driver for the differential experience of work and exclusion from opportunity for women. Nearly half of managers (47%) felt they have been overlooked for at least one opportunity because of their identity. most notably:

  • promotions (31%):
    • female managers with children, compared to male managers with children (37% vs. 27%);
    • female managers more than male managers (34% vs. 27%).
  • salary rises (29%)
    • female managers with children, compared to male managers with children (33% vs. 20%);
    • female managers more than male managers (33% vs. 24%).

84% of the managers told CMI that hybrid working has benefited them, and made it easier to balance work and home life commitments. 

60% of the managers said flexible working had opened up job opportunities where it would have been difficult to balance work and home life commitments if these roles had been office based. As the debate over the best working arrangements after Covid rages there is a double risk: important flexibilities could be lost whilst ongoing barriers to progression may persist. 

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