When asked why they believed this to be the case, more than half (57%) of the 1,000 professional women surveyed blamed unconscious bias in the recruitment and promotion process.
The private sector appears to have more of a gender bias issue than the public sector. One in five (20%) women in the private sector said they had been passed over for promotion because of their gender, compared to 8% of women in the public sector.
However, the private sector invests more in leadership development and training for women than the public sector. More than half (58%) of women in the private sector said their organisation had specific leadership training for women, compared to 48% in the public sector.
Badenoch & Clark managing director Nicola Linkleter said that while it is “fantastic” so many employers are “proactively trying to develop their female talent”, the “outcomes” of such programmes needed to be carefully examined.
“Are these programmes leading to more women in senior positions? If not, we need to interrogate why they are not working and do things differently,” she said.
The research also found that highly paid women (earning more than £60,000 a year) were more likely to report gender bias, at 40%. In comparison, only 27% of women earning less than £30,000 a year reported men receiving greater opportunities.
Linkleter added: “We must look to businesses and sectors that are successfully changing the status quo and creating a culture of gender equality, and learn from them and their methods. Having a diversity policy in place or a training offering isn’t enough if it is not having a direct impact on the number of women in the boardroom.
“Ultimately recognising and challenging gender biases in the workplace will have dramatic and positive implications. Those that manage it will not only be better at attracting and retaining top talent, they will be more successful.”