Thursday, 12 February 2015

Breaking the Boardroom

I have had the privilege this month of being involved in a report which Telefonica created in co-partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), on the topic of women on boards. In the UK, Lord Davies published a Women on Boards Report in 2011 and challenged UK FTSE businesses to have a female component of at least 25%. Whilst we’ve made a lot of progress; figures suggest that we still have a way to go and will not hit the target date set by Lord Davies. The research with which I have been involved is entitled ‘Breaking the Boardroom’ and it suggests that 45% of women believe that women still aren’t occupying enough senior positions.

Yet again, the debate continues regarding why? Many different reasons surround this discussion and I am drawn back to the topic of confidence. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that as long as you feel confident then you’ll be fine; I’m just saying that there are so many extraordinary, bright, talented women with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working who suffer from lack of confidence on occasion. I think it’s a piece in the puzzle.

What’s this based on? Well, a monthly newsletter won’t do it justice but some fantastic research a few years ago talked about how women are always doing one of the 4 Ps – Pleasing, Proving, Performing, Perfecting. Like monkeys on our back or chains around our neck, as women we please, we prove, we perform and we perfect…and by so doing, have more than enough material from which to create doubt, confusion and chaos in our minds regarding our own worth and ability. If you’re a women reading this - which ones do you own? If you’re a man reading this and thinking "What? I don’t get that?” then terrific, that’s also what the research shows. Women spend a great deal more time focusing on their perceived gaps and flaws, than celebrating and developing their inherent strengths. Much more so than men. By the way; this isn’t an ‘anti–man’ vibe this month either. I celebrate, appreciate and applaud professional men for their talent and’s just a fact that they don’t always suffer from lack of confidence in the same way that women do.

Confidence is an essential facet of leaders who have Executive Presence, and my own research a couple of years ago proved that those with Executive Presence are aware of their strengths as well as their flaws and continue to work on both.

Whether you’re a woman reading this, or a man who works with professional women, check out the research at, #breakingtheboardroom.