Motherhood is the single biggest reason for the lack of senior female managers, according to a new independent report.
Tackling the gender seniority gap: what works for the insurance and long-term savings industry, commissioned by the Association of British Insurers, looks at barriers to women getting top jobs. It says that to reduce the seniority gap substantially, it needs to be easier for part-time or formerly part-time employees to advance. This includes more job shares and senior part-time roles and allowing more rapid advancement opportunities for women who worked part-time once they come back to full-time work.
It says the jury is out on the benefits of unconscious bias training and states that sexism is best tackled by organisational redesign, not training. Ways of doing this include better use of interviews to make them more structured and ability-based, not free-form.
It adds that, despite multiple interventions by employers to address the seniority gap, there is little correlation between the interventions that companies are using and what can demonstrably be shown to be working.
ABI Chair Amanda Blanc said: “This report shows that mothers still face a huge challenge to make progress in their career when they return to work. We want to speed that up and the evidence shows that tackling the ‘motherhood penalty’ may be the best way to do this.
“While I have no doubt that many of the people at the top of the industry are fully committed to change, it is simply not good enough that in 2018 there are 60% fewer women at board level than entry level.
“To change this we need to focus on what interventions work, not what makes us feel like we are trying. Only then will we start to see the seniority gap close.”