Mentoring Essential Say Top Business Women
11 November 2010 at 2:06 pm
Top Australian business women believe that mentoring young women would prove more valuable than 'quotas' in improving gender equality at senior levels of business.
Almost three quarters of respondents (72 per cent) to a survey of state winners and finalists of the 2010 Telstra Business Women’s Awards nominated mentoring programs for talented young women as vital for greater gender equality.
Eighty-three per cent of the women surveyed said mentoring should be an essential component of a positive business culture while almost two-thirds of the women (65 per cent) said they have enjoyed the benefits of a mentor during their business careers.
Only 15 per cent favoured gender quotas in the hiring, retaining or development of women as an initiative to aid gender equality. The second-highest ranked measure was flexible working conditions and locations (60 per cent) while 40 per cent of respondents nominated practices that encourage women to apply for new roles.
The survey conducted during the past fortnight and consisting of 68 successful business women from across Australia.
The responses were split almost equally on the question of whether business should comply with government-enforceable quotas, if established, on the number of senior and middle management positions occupied by women, subject to competency standards.
Thirty-nine per cent supported the proposition but 42 per cent said business should not have to comply with quotas. While 34 per cent of those surveyed believed it should be mandatory for businesses to set publicly-reported, measurable targets for the number of women at senior and middle management, 54 per cent did not agree.
When asked to nominate the biggest obstacles to women progressing to senior roles:
- 68 per cent chose the difficulties of juggling work and life responsibilities;
- 57 per cent said women’s confidence held them back; and
- 35 per cent nominated a lack of awareness about the value that gender equality can deliver to business performance.
Lack of affordable, reliable childcare was nominated by 71 per cent of those surveyed as one of the biggest obstacles to women returning to work after having children. Sixty-three per cent chose a lack of flexible working arrangements while 38 per cent said the paucity of female role models managing senior business roles was another of the key barriers.
Forty-five per cent of those surveyed said they had experienced barriers in their career advancement that they attributed to gender bias.
Telstra Chief Marketing Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador Kate McKenzie said the 2010 Awards finalists and winners surveyed were successful business women whose views provided a valuable insight into issues currently facing women in the workplace.
“McKenzie says these women are business owners or managers in a diverse range of industries, government and Not for Profit organisations whose achievements inspire others.
The national finals of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, now in their 16th year, will be held in Melbourne on 11 November, where the 2010 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year will be announced.