Sunday, January 13, 2008

Women still face Glass Ceiling

“Barclays Bank appoints 5 women among 80 managing directors”

Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays, has been forced to defend its record as an equal opportunities employer after it emerged that it had promoted 80 managing directors, of which only five are women. BarCap, employs about 15,700 staff across offices in 26 countries, took out a full-page advertisement in the Financial Times 10 Jan, to announce the promotions, covering public relations executives as well as bankers in locations from London and New York to Madrid and Singapore.

The investment banking unit, led by Bob Diamond, specialises in the corporate credit markets and has been one of the fastest-growing City employers. It accounts for more than a third of Barclays’ annual profits, which last year topped £7 billion, and employs a little under half the group’s 33,000 staff.

Two of the new female BarCap MDs are in London. The other three are based in New York, Jakarta and Singapore.

Employment commentators said that the promotions underscored the perception of the City remaining a male-dominated environment. Nevertheless, they were loath to judge BarCap, pointing out that the decision about whether to pursue a banking career is also a lifestyle choice, tending to involve long hours and a gruelling travel schedule, albeit for considerable financial rewards. It emerged yesterday that, after meeting performance targets, Mr Diamond was on course to collect a £14.8 million payout covering the past three years. The payout means that Mr Diamond is likely to have received about £75 million in pay, cash bonuses and share awards since he joined the board in 2005.

Heather McGregor, a director of Taylor Bennett, the recruitment consultant, said: “Investment banks do struggle to find women for senior positions because very often women have other agendas and choose not to make their careers a priority.”

Of the 358 executive directors at FTSE 100 firms, only 14 — less than 4 per cent — are female, according to Manifest, the proxy shareholder voting specialist.

A spokeswoman for The Equalities and Human Rights Commission said that it was disappointed but not surprised by the lack of female appointees at BarCap: “It’s not a simple question of discrimination — it’s also about working practices.”

Siobhan Loftus, a media relations executive at Barclays Capital and one of the new managing directors, defended the promotions, which she said were based entirely on merit. “We are a meritocracy. In our diversity policy we would hope to promote irrespective of any gender bias,” she said.

“We would always look for the best person for the job. We want to provide an environment where people feel comfortable irrespective of their background, gender, sexuality or race.”

Food for Thought:

Economist "Women in Business" 2005 ...

It's 20 years since the term “glass ceiling” was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe the apparent barriers that prevent women from reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy; and it is ten years since the American government's specially appointed Glass Ceiling Commission published its recommendations. In 1995 the commission said that the barrier was continuing “to deny untold numbers of qualified people the opportunity to compete for and hold executive level positions in the private sector.” It found that women had 45.7% of America's jobs and more than half of master's degrees being awarded. Yet 95% of senior managers were men, and female managers' earnings were on average a mere 68% of their male counterparts'.

Ten years on, women account for 46.5% of America's workforce and for less than 8% of its top managers, although at big Fortune 500 companies the figure is a bit higher. Female managers' earnings now average 72% of their male colleagues'. Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that monitors departing chief executives in America, found that 0.7% of them were women in 1998, and 0.7% of them were women in 2004. In between, the figure fluctuated. But the firm says that one thing is clear: the number is “very low and not getting higher”.

Source: Times Online

In August 2006 Forbes reported that 70% of women and 57% of men believe an invisible barrier -- a glass ceiling -- prevents women from getting ahead in business, according to a study of 1,200 executives in eight countries, including the U.S., Australia, Austria and the Philippines were the findings of a study conducted by

Women aren't as worried about the pay gap as they were five years ago, says Carol Gallagher, president of the Executive Women's Alliance and author of Going To The Top: A Road Map for Success from America's Leading Women Executives. Gallagher, who is also an executive coach, says Gen Xers and Yers don't think any barriers prevent them from getting to the top.

And baby boomers are now looking toward retirement, not obsessing about pay. When Gallagher published her book in 2000, there was a huge demand for information about the gender gap. At the time, almost all her executive coaching clients were women seeking the secrets of corporate success. Now 70% of her clients are men. "There [isn't] a need for as much of the women's group stuff," Gallagher says.

To some extent, there's a disconnect between American women and their counterparts abroad. In a study of American executives by Catalyst, a research and advocacy firm, women were just as likely as men to say they aspired to senior management positions. "Women want the responsibilities and rewards that come with top positions," says Sheila Wellington, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, who was president of Catalyst when the survey was conducted.

But a global study, also conducted by Catalyst, found that men worldwide desire the top jobs more often than women.

Even in the U.S., some experts say the glass ceiling doesn't affect job satisfaction. Women make sacrifices at work in exchange for greater happiness in their lives as a whole, says Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More.

His book offers 25 reasons for the pay gap: Women work fewer hours, for example, and they don't stay at jobs as long as men do. Whether it's nature or socialization driving their decisions, women tend to choose lives that allow them to spend more time with their families, Farrell contends.

Even ambitious women don't measure success in high salaries and fancy job titles. Relationships with colleagues and giving back to the community are more important to women than salary, according to "The Hidden Brain Drain: Off-Ramps and On-Ramps in Women's Careers," a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, which was published in the Harvard Business Review last year.

"They want to feel satisfied and good about their work, but also want to feel satisfied about other things in their life," says Melinda Wolfe, head of global leadership and diversity at Goldman Sachs Group (nyse: GS - news - people ).

Even if most women don't want to break the glass ceiling, Wolfe says, the few that do shouldn't be ignored. Sometimes their ambitions have been tempered by a corporate culture that stifles their success. Sometimes they choose circuitous career paths, taking some time to care for children, prepare for a career change or work in the nonprofit sector.

There's another reason why the pay gap has barely budged in the last five years: Women don't ask for more money. "They don't think they deserve it," says Lois Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching International and author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office. She adds, "We don't have the [negotiating] skills. We see it as something smarmy."

But Susan Solovic, CEO of SBTV, a Web site that creates video programming aimed at small-business owners, offers another reason why women aren't complaining about the pay gap: They've decided to work for themselves. The number of women-owned firms grew 17% between 1997 and 2004, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, while the total number of firms rose only 9%. Says Solovic: "There is really no glass ceiling when it comes to owning your own business."

Source: Forbes

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