Women lack professional development opportunities, reveals Skillsoft survey

Women around the world are concerned that their employers are not doing enough to close the gender gap in leadership, according to a new survey of women in the workforce.

The report, conducted by Skillsoft, a global leader in learning and talent management, found that nearly all (90 percent) of the 450 women who participated in the international survey cited that a disproportionate number of leadership roles are currently being held by male employees.

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Priti Shah, Vice President of Leadership Product Strategy and Corporate Development at Skillsoft, said: “The lack of women in leadership positions speaks volumes of the failure of businesses around the world to address gender discrimination and establish a mixed gender leadership pipeline as a top priority.

“It is important for industry leaders like Skillsoft to equip our customers with tools that can help all members of the workforce reach their potential,” Shah said. “Though we’re starting to see more event-based development opportunities for women, a continuous approach to developing leadership competencies is also crucial for organisations to build gender parity in leadership positions.”

More than half of the respondents (54 percent), highlighted the importance of offering leadership training specific to women, but nearly 70 percent of the female participants believed that their employers do not currently provide adequate resources and support to help them progress their careers.

The respondents’ perceptions provide an accurate representation of the current global state of women in corporate leadership. In the United States alone, women hold more than half of all professional-level jobs, yet comprise only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. In most European countries, women comprise less than 20 percent of all corporate boards and women represent just 6 percent of corporate boards in Asia. 

In order to implement more effective leadership development, organisations must first acknowledge the key factors inhibiting women’s career progression. Skillsoft’s study demonstrates that work-life balance is the top concern for 63 percent of women. Competing priorities often limit the opportunities women have to develop into leaders within their organisation, according to a recent Eudemonia study, “It’s About Time: Developing Women for Business Leadership.”

Christa Degnan Manning, founder at Eudemonia, a research and advisory firm focused on workforce support said: “Companies must cultivate the ongoing culture of respect for people’s time, recognise the deeply-ingrained challenges women face and start to realistically enable their advancement,” “There are a myriad factors that go into creating company cultures supportive of productivity and advancing women. Only when we begin implementing formal development programmes that routinely review key leadership concepts can we then engage peers, mentors and sponsors across company networks to finally increase the number of women in executive and board positions worldwide.”

Recently, Skillsoft announced the Women in Action™ leadership programme, the industry’s first learning solution specifically designed to help women across the workforce build specific competencies and immediately apply newly-acquired skills. The new programme enables Skillsoft customers to deliver ongoing learning opportunities for women at all levels of their organisation, whether they are emerging leaders or hold positions in senior-level management.


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