Young women 'checking out' of business

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Young women working in the City need more female role models with a good work/life balance

“Women are making up their minds much earlier than previously thought about whether a culture is conducive.” That’s founder of the Executive Coaching Consultancy Geraldine Gallacher’s summation of her recent research into the ‘stubbornly low’ number of women progressing to senior positions in the City.

The research, seen exclusively by HR magazine, surveyed 651 female City workers aged between 21- and 35-years-old. It found a lack of senior female role models with strong work/life balances deterred young women from aiming high, often leading to them leaving the business.

“Young people think ‘I can change this’, because they are natural optimists. They think: ‘It’s a level playing field out there but not here’,” explained Gallacher, of women’s reasons for leaving. She reported that disillusionment then sets in upon joining another organisation.

The report found that 52% of young women do not want to or are not sure they want to progress to senior management, and 60% think colleagues will assume they are less serious about work after having a child. What’s needed, said Gallacher, are more positive female role models.

“Women at the top can become anti-role models,” she said, adding: “We need to encourage women that rather than seeing leaving at 5.30pm as the walk of shame, actually you’re in the vanguard. You can’t be jumping out of the fire escape.”

Showcasing positive male role models with strong work/life balances is another important part of the solution, said Gallacher. She added that consulting women on their career ambitions and perceptions of their organisation is vital when they’re at risk of “checking out”. “I would be getting them into the room and saying: ‘We have got this problem, how should we correct it?’” she said.

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