Female professionals unprepared to succeed

by 01 Apr 2008

LESS THAN half of female professionals feel well-equipped to compete in the business economy of the future, however, women in several key emerging markets believe they are better equipped to succeed than their female counterparts in many developed markets.

A study of more than 4,000 male and female business professionals in 17 countries across Europe, Asia, North America and South America, found that the majority of businesswomen in India, South Africa, China and Brazil (68 per cent, 63 per cent, 61 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively) – said that they feel equipped to succeed in the global world of 2011.

“As we look toward 2011, both men and women will have to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the multi-polar world, in which emerging-market economies are competing with the collective dominance of the United States, Europe and Japan,” said Armelle Carminati-Rabasse, managing director –human capital & diversity at Accenture, which released the study.

“In this increasingly competitive landscape, companies have a mandate not only to adapt their business models, but also to equip each of their employees with a wide array of skills – many of which have not yet been demanded of executives.”

The survey asked respondents to consider skills readiness across six categories – agility, social responsibility, global skills, technology, inclusion and diversity, and business relationships – with skills readiness representing the respondents’ perceived importance of the specific skill to success in 2011, as well as their readiness in that skill. Interestingly, both women and men rated technology at the top of their skills readiness assessment, cited by 75 per cent of women and 73 per cent of men.

Additionally, more than eight in 10 women (83 per cent) said they were willing to learn and use new technologies, such as blogs or social networks, as a means of achieving future success. More than three-quarters of women (76 per cent) forecasted a high degree of importance in leveraging those technologies, and two-thirds (66 per cent) of women said they expect relationships managed through technology will change significantly between now and 2011.

“Talent management – attracting, developing and retaining the right people for today’s business imperatives – has truly become a global issue, and senior business leaders have placed it right at the top of their agendas” said Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s chief leadership officer.

“It’s important for leading companies to remember that they must keep their focus on training and professional development to enhance their employees’skills.”

The research also explored factors related to career advancement and identified some differences between male and female respondents. Women were more likely than men to attribute their career advancement to ambition and drive (cited by 59 per cent of women versus 54 per cent of men), to passion for their chosen careers (42 per cent of women versus 39 per cent of men) and to family support (30 per cent of women versus 26 per cent of men).

On the other hand, men were more likely than women to cite technical capabilities and fostering professional relationships as having helped their career advancement, cited by 59 per cent and 33 per cent of men, respectively, versus 47 per cent and 29 per cent of women, respectively.

However, only 47 per cent of men said that they felt equipped to compete in 2011, slightly higher than the 43 per cent of women who answered similarly. Additionally, more than half of both female and male respondents (58 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively) reported that men and women are equally effective at building professional networks that help advance their careers.

Yet vestiges of gender boundaries still exist: more than one-quarter (28 per cent) of all respondents said that men are more effective than women at building those professional networks, compared with just 13 per cent of respondents who said that women are more effective than men at building these networks.


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