Women still not progressing at the same pace as their male counterparts, according to UK HR directors

19 November 2013
  • Despite slight increase to females represented on FTSE 100 boards, only a quarter of women are in management-level positions within their company
  • Seven in 10 (68%)  HR directors believe this is due to a lack of promotional opportunities for women
  • Over half of HR directors believe organisations should provide flexible working/job share opportunities to narrow the divide in the workplace

London, 19 November, 2013 – Over half (54%) of HR directors - 66 per cent of which were female - believe women are not advancing their careers on par with men in the workplace, according to new research1 undertaken by leading recruitment specialist OfficeTeam.  Indeed only a quarter of women are in management-level positions within their company – a figure supported by their current representation on the FTSE250 which presently stands at 15%.

The survey reveals that the majority (70%) of HR directors believe the ‘progression gap’ is owing to an inability to manage their work-life balance and parental duties - compared to 54% globally. In fact, when asked “What steps should organisations take to help narrow the divide between men and women in the workplace”, the majority (53%) of respondents said organisations should provide flexible working and job share opportunities to help narrow the divide within the workplace and to ensure the UK economy does not suffer as a result of losing talented working mothers.

Another key reason for the progression gap - cited by 68% of HR directors - was the lack of promotional opportunities for women, a figure supported with so few female CEOs currently on the FTSE 100, which has recently experienced an increase to four:  Liv Garfield – CEO of Severn Trent.   She will be joining Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco; Carolyn McCall at Easyjet and Angela Ahrendts from Burberry - set to leave next year.  With only 19% of FTSE100 board positions currently held by women, it is still some way off the 2015 target of 25% set by Lord Davis.   

Nearly six in 10 (59%) HR directors also agree that societal perceptions of a women’s role can have an effect on career progression, with over half (56%) agreeing that due to a lack of confidence, women are simply not volunteering for projects.

Estelle James, Director, OfficeTeam UK, commented: “Our research shows that many women are missing out on promotional opportunities.  Some female candidates can be guilty of underestimating themselves and their ability to succeed, which ultimately has a detrimental effect on their career. Almost half (48%) of HR directors believe that by identifying and encouraging high potential talent earlier on in their careers  could potentially narrow this gender gap.  Without this visibility, there’s a good chance women will continue to miss out on promotions and that movement up the corporate ladder”

Other factors HR directors believe could narrow the gap include; a review of pay grades (46%), the establishment of quota systems (33%), providing professional development training (31%) and offering mentorship opportunities. Only 5% believe organisations do not need to take any steps to narrow the divide between men and women in the workplace.

Regionally, the Midlands have the lowest percentage of women in management, with only a quarter (25%) holding management positions. Wales, Scotland, the South West and the North have 27% of management roles held by women and London leads the way with just under a third (32%).

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

1 The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 200 HR directors across the UK

About OfficeTeam

OfficeTeam is the world's leading recruitment consultancy specialising in the placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals on a temporary and permanent basis. A division of Robert Half, the company leverages over 65 years of experience in providing recruitment solutions for companies across the UK and worldwide. Robert Half was named one of the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For and consistently figures on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list. For more information visit roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.