7. May 2024

Why is everyone talking about… female CEOs?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 1

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering the lack of female CEOs and the measures your HR team and organisation can take to create better gender parity within leadership teams.

What you need to know

When Margaret Sweeney, CEO of Ires Reit retired last Tuesday, it brought the grand total of female CEOs at listed companies in Ireland to a grand total of zero, according to research by Bloomberg. Sadly, Ireland is one of two EU states where this is the case, joining Luxembourg on a list of countries with fully male CEOs sitting at the head of its public companies.

Bloomberg’s research also points to a broader trend that only 8% of CEO positions at the largest listed companies in the European Union are held by women. Unfortunately, the UK doesn’t fare much better — according to Raconteur, there are still only nine female CEOs in the FTSE 100 and not one is a woman of colour. In the entire FTSE 350, there are only nineteen women. There is undisputedly a lot more to be done.

What others are saying about it 

According to Gillian Harford, Ireland’s country executive at 30% Club, this gender inequality is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of Ireland’s listed companies are from traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction. For this reason, Gillian sees succession planning as key: “Where the represented base is already small, sustainment has to depend on succession planning, and that’s where we see the gender power gap becoming most prevalent.” 

It’s something that we need to tackle across our organisations, not just at the top level, she explains: “Until we achieve constant focus on succession and gender balance across all functional roles, and remove or reduce the gender power gap it will be a challenge to maintain momentum on gender progress at CEO level.”

What that means for you

Abadesi Osunsade, Founder & CEO of Hustle Crew (who you may spot in an exciting upcoming project with Personio), has trained hundreds of board members and leaders on creating more inclusive workplaces. She shared in a recent LinkedIn post that it’s crucial to firstly understand what is keeping these talented employees from progressing:

“From startups to enterprise level, women are still largely underrepresented at the most senior positions. It’s interesting to see what the research says. According to The Pipeline’s 2023 study, over 200 executive women leaders gave these reasons for the lack of representation:

  • Workplace culture 

  • Lack of support for women’s needs

  • Lack of strategy to advance women

  • Lack of flexibility for women who are caregivers”

HR can do so much to craft a workplace culture in which all employees feel empowered to succeed, especially women and those from underrepresented groups. To begin to target the issues above, we suggests the following as a starting point:

  • Assess your policies: Are you creating the right infrastructure for women to succeed in your organisation? Are flexible hours offered to accommodate caring responsibilities? Do you offer unconscious bias training to all employees? 

  • Empower from the get-go: What does your recruitment process look like for women (or underrepresented groups?) Are they meeting people who look like them at interviews? Are you offering compensation akin to their male counterparts?

  • Grow support networks: Are there mentorship programmes in place? Can you offer employees from underrepresented groups support from employee resource groups? Do you have an alumni network that they can connect with too?

Recognise their hard work: Are you ensuring that all of your employees’ biggest achievements are recognised? Are you sharing their wins organisation-wide so that other employees are aware and can feel inspired by them too?

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Hannah Popham

Hannah Popham

Hannah is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Personio. She loves writing about the ever-changing ways that we work and how they intersect with our lives outside work.

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