Vodafone’s Driving Gender Diversity at the Top: 2019 & Beyond report finds mentors and role models are key to furthering workplace diversity


Vodafone's gender report shows 'If you can’t see it, you can’t be it'

Vodafone UK's Driving Gender Diversity at the Top report shows the company has 36 per cent of leadership roles filled by women - and well on the way to reaching its target of 40 per cent by 2030.

The report reveals mentorship schemes and role models are key to having a more diverse leadership group, and that leaders who work alongside their employees and have a positive approach to flexible working also drive gender diversity in senior positions.

The research was conducted with YouGov, drawing on 2,000 senior decision makers from FTSE 350 companies. It provides a useful reference for businesses looking to meet the government backed Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33 per cent of females in senior leadership roles by 2020, suggesting companies should invest in mentorship schemes, actively encourage role models, have visible executives and demonstrate a positive approach to flexible working.

Vodafone's report contains many key findings as outlined below.

Culture of support: created through mentoring and role models

Providing mentoring and opportunities for coaching is vital in helping employees develop and look toward joining the board themselves.

Companies who have reached 30 per cent or above of women in senior leadership roles are more likely to foster ambition, with 27 per cent of senior leaders actively mentoring others, and 17 per cent looking for opportunities to ‘sponsor’ more junior employees within their organisation. This is compared to companies who are under target, where just 14 per cent of staff are mentors for others.

Making the leadership team visible and accessible

Employees working at companies who have met the target also benefit from higher interaction with executives, with 66 per cent saying they see senior leaders always or often. At companies who are below target, 22 per cent say they see their C-suite colleagues rarely or never.

Having a physical presence within the workplace and ensuring a level of interaction between senior staff and the wider team is vital in making senior executives and roles seem accessible. Companies with a more visible leadership team have a more fluid sharing of knowledge and information across the business.

At companies with higher rates of women in leadership roles, 28 per cent say they learn from those on the board, and vice versa: 26 per cent say that executive teams learn from the wider staff base. Comparatively, at businesses with lower gender diversity, only 16 per cent think those working at a senior level learn from others.

Positive approach and response to flexible working 

The research found that companies who positively embrace flexible working are more successful in achieving the 33 per cent target.

Flexible working at a senior level is pivotal in helping all employees embrace more fluid ways of working and helping to avoid ‘flexism’ – the subtle discrimination of those who adopt flexible working. Senior women – and men – openly working flexibly themselves can act as positive role models and drive a culture change.

Almost half (49 per cent) of employees working at companies with more than 30 per cent women in senior roles say that flexible working feels normal because the senior team are advocates themselves. This is compared to just 30 per cent of employees working at businesses who are under the target.

Equality at work: a huge benefit to business 

Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins commented “Equality at work has a huge benefit to business, the economy and society. Companies that don’t recognise this are missing out on talent. It’s great to see Vodafone promoting the importance of a representative workplace and sharing best practice. I hope to see more companies following their lead.”

Read Vodafone's Driving Gender Diversity at the Top: 2019 & Beyond report in full. 

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