Equality and sorority

8 March 2012
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementOn today, International Women’s Day, it is depressing to read a story on the Mail Online that says a quarter of female managers are reluctant to hire women who have children or are of childbearing age. A thousand women were quizzed in the survey commissioned by office operator Business Environment. The results showed women also apparently admit to having more respect for male business role models, with 28 per cent citing Richard Branson’s management style as one they aspire to, compared with just one in 10 opting for Karren Brady’s. Of course Brady is not nearly as high-profile or wealthy as Branson, so it’s hard to know precisely what those who answered had in mind. A quick (and clearly unscientific) Google search using the names of the two and the words ‘management style’ support my point. While for Karren Brady an article comes top entitled 'Women have brains and uteruses, and are able to use both'; for Branson it’s a GCSE article about leadership styles where the entrepreneur is named in the same breath as Winston Churchill and Alex Ferguson. That said, there does seem to be an issue with some women expecting more of or being harder on female colleagues in terms of what they wear or how they behave. Robyn Wright, a principal at AT Kearney, told me recently: “I’ve heard people say ‘women don’t like working with women and the successful ones are all really hard’, but that’s not my experience at all. The good ones who’ve got on are just really impressive and you want to be in their stable because they’re going to care.” One ray of light perhaps is the study found women to be just as competitive as men, despite problems persisting with women not afforded the same job opportunities or pay as men – ‘Equal pay for work of equal value’, is the European Parliament's 2012 theme for Women’s Day. Getting to a situation of equality will require women, as well as men, to get behind the effort and support each other. ☛ See my feature on the glass ceiling in the April issue of SM
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