Women not convinced of need for women's networks

Only one in four women are convinced of the need for women-only networks, according to research by Ernst & Young.

Only one in four women are convinced of the need for women-only networks, according to research by Ernst & Young.

The research, including a survey of 750 business professionals at all stages of their career, found that, despite the fact that women-only networks have long been hailed as a method of driving greater equality in the workforce, only 24% of women (and 21% of professionals) felt there was a need for women-only networks in the modern workplace. 

It also found that face-to-face contact remains the preferred way for professionals to network, despite the increasing availability of online networking tools.

The study shows those at the earliest stages of their professional development have the strongest attachment to in-person networking. Nearly 70% of those at an executive level are networking in person, whilst only 36% of executives network via social media platforms.

Across all respondents, 56% network in person, followed by email (44%), online/social networks (33%) and finally telephone (28%). Of those who do network in person, 71% describe it as “very valuable”.

Liz Bingham, EY’s Managing Partner for Talent in the UK & Ireland, said: “Networking is often put in a box and seen as a separate distinct activity, where business cards are exchanged and hands are shaken. Whereas in reality, it’s something we all do, every day, with our friends, colleagues, clients and acquaintances. At its most basic level, networking is about forming and maintaining relationships and this is often best done face-to-face.”

However, only 53% of business workers value networking as professional skill and almost one in four respondents – ranging from executive to owner/directors – admitted they did not currently network.

Many professionals also seem to struggle to manage their professional networks, whether on or offline. 51% of respondents do not have a LinkedIn account; and of those that do only 50% are in regular  contact with no more than 10 of their connections.

Almost half of professionals (47%) do not feel that they have the right connections to succeed in their career. Two out of five professionals would like to network more, but do not feel they have enough time.

According to EY’s research, 73% of professionals’ workplaces do not have either a networking strategy or training in place. 

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