By Juliet Umeh

Despite pressures from all quarters clamouring for equality, women inclusion and gender parity, women all over the world are still relegated to the background,  and in work places too.

Study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, IBV, on Women, Leadership, and the Priority Paradox, polled 2,300 executives, professionals and revealed that the leadership gender gap in the global workplace continues to persist because organisations are yet to make women a formal business priority.

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The IBV in cooperation with Oxford Economics surveyed an equal number of women and men from organisations worldwide across multiple industries to better understand why a large gender disparity in the leadership ranks persists and what can be done to drive progress toward gender equality.

In addition to the qualitative survey, IBV conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with executives and professionals across six global regions.

The study revealed that within those organisations surveyed, only 18 per cent of senior leadership positions are held by women.

This is due to three key factors: Organisations are not sold on the business value. “Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated that they have not formally prioritised fostering gender equality in leadership within their organisations, even though ample evidence correlates gender equity with improved financial success and competitive advantage.

“Men underestimate the magnitude of gender bias in their workplaces.  65 per cent of male executives reported it is just as likely they would have been promoted to a top leadership role even if they had been women, despite the low number of women that currently hold those roles.

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Few organisations display a sense of urgency or ownership about this issue. Organisations are over-relying on “good intentions” and applying a laissez-faire approach to diversity, rather than applying the disciplined focus on operational execution they apply to other aspects of organisational performance.”

Senior Vice-President of Digital Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Peluso, said: “The past year has underscored the world’s focus on diversity, and the business benefits of inclusive teams are now well-documented.

“The opportunity now is to move from inclusion being interesting to being imperative – just like we treat other top business priorities,” he said.

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