Friday, 09 March 2018 00:00

Seek: Understanding motivational drivers 'key to bridging the leadership gender gap'

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A new study released by "employment marketplace" Seek for International Women’s Day shows that "over 65% of Australia’s workforce would like to see more women in leadership roles."

In addition, Seek's study showed that "almost half of working women would like to pursue a leadership role in the future, validating the strong desire for women to participate equally in leadership positions."

Seek said it "interviewed working Australians to understand the different drivers between men and women in relation to applying for and taking on leadership roles," and that "the research revealed marked differences in attitudes towards leadership roles between men and women".

The company explains that it hoped its study "will help businesses understand how to create a more inclusive workplace that will ensure gender balance in leadership positions across all levels".

Kathleen McCudden, Seek's Group HR Director said: "Understanding the drivers and motivations of the entire workforce is an essential step towards building a more inclusive workplace that caters for the needs and aspirations of everyone

Women show appetite for leadership

Seek noted that "a gender imbalance in leadership roles still exists, with 60% of those in leadership roles being male. However, the desire to take on leadership roles is comparable across genders with 50% of men and 48% of women wanting to pursue a leadership role in the future."

Rewards of leadership differ by gender

The Seek study also revealed "marked differences in what attracts men and women to a leadership role."

Top three attractions to leadership roles by gender:

Women

  • Supporting and mentoring staff to reach their potential (43%)
  • Being respected for my knowledge and experience (38%)
  • Expanding my professional experience (37%)

Men

  • Feeling accomplished in my career (42%)
  • Higher salary and/or other financial benefits (36%)
  • Being responsible for getting positive results (36%)

McCudden added: "What this research tells us is that beyond salary, there are very different drivers in the value women ascribe to leadership roles, compared to men.

"This provides insight about how businesses can position and advertise roles so they are attracting both men and women to apply for leadership roles."

Views on Leadership

The research also highlighted that "men and women differ in their beliefs about the qualities that make a good leader."

  • 25% of men feel that ‘being disciplined’ was a key quality of a good leader, but only 8% of women agree.
  • Women are more likely to value ‘emotional intelligence’ than men, with 19% of women considering this a key attribute in a good leader, compared to just 11% of men.

Motivations for Staying or Moving Roles

To support men and women in leadership roles, Seek's research indicated that "they will look for different things to remain engaged and feel supported."

  • While ‘work-life balance’ is important to both genders, it is of more importance to women (39%) than it is to men (27%).
  • ‘Salary/compensation’ is more of a motivating force for men (32%) to stay in a job than women (21%).
  • Women are over three times more likely to have left their last job due to a change in their family situation (7%), compared to men (2%).

McCudden concluded: “The research shows women’s career choices are influenced to a greater degree by their family and home commitments than men. Recognising this, businesses can look to structure roles so they are more accessible and sustainable for men and women, including those in leadership roles, to adapt to their work life to cater for family commitments.

"Whether that’s offering flexible working hours, provision to work from home, or just having a less rigid working environment to allow for the best solution to suit each employee."

By listening to and understanding the different drivers and motivators of the entire workforce, Seek said "employers can learn how to implement practical strategies to promote gender equality in all organisations across Australia."

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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