Is it all about women on boards? 

The stats show that the millennial generation really are making a huge impact on the gender diversity debate.  The thirty something generation are seeing females topping the males in professional careers, and the twenty something females are achieving higher grades in education.

As they progress through organisations, will we see more equality, or based on current trends,  women may start overtaking men in the boardroom.  No one can predict the future, but all the trends suggest that in the next 10 years, we will see 30% of board places being filled by women.   That’s still not equal though.  There is also a suggestion that the women that are predicted to get ahead are those that demonstrate more masculine qualities, and hold similar educational and skill levels as their male peers.  

Three kinds of women in business are emerging in our new workplace.

The high flyer

These women do reach the top.  They are focused, determined, and really do lean into their careers. They are educated, tenacious and have the skills and experience to be hired based on merit.  If they do have children, they are aided by good support structures at home, which enables them to hold roles of such responsibility.  

The frustrated

These women are busy, frustrated and trying to do it all.  They may not have the same level of support at home, and often feel conflicted between home and work life balance. Often they feel compromised between all of the different roles they are trying to fulfil, and often feel shame and guilt about either focusing on work,many neglecting the family, or vice versa.  These women are often talented, yet do not put themselves forward for development or mentoring, which could really help them in their careers and work life balance. I coach a lot of women in this category, and it is a development tool that really works.

The others

These women have made active choices around their careers.  Often stepping into their thirties, they are able to step back and reflect on what is really important to them.  Often they have had time out to have children, which has given them some breathing space to assess what’s important.  Some actively choose to slow down, others decide to leave the corporate world altogether.  It is in this category that we see the rise of female entrepreneurs and business owners.  It is one of the fastest growing growth areas right now. 

Whereas previous generations were forced to give up on their careers to care for the family, these women are making an active choice to live a life on their terms, and do what they want to do.  They do not see leaving the corporate world as letting down the equality movement, but rather empowering themselves and making positive decisions.

I am excited by the changes which the millennial so are bringing to the working world.  Yet we must not forget to support, develop and mentor effectively.  So although we want to encourage the diversity in the boardroom, let’s not forget the others and the frustrated, because change is happening there as well.

Lucy Barkas

If you would like to learn more about how we can support your emerging leaders and talent, email