Career conversations crucial to empowering women in the workplace

Career Conversations Crucial to Empowering Women in the Workplace
While everybody in the workplace will be affected by technological disruption that is leading to the emergence of a Skills Revolution, a significant impact will be felt by women.

Right Management’s latest report, ‘Women, We Hear You! Empowering Women in the Workplace Through Ongoing Career Conversations’, presents new research and practical steps to help employers achieve gender parity, starting with the easiest and most cost effective step of all: career conversations.

Women are already under-represented in industries anticipating the greatest job growth – namely engineering, technology, architecture and mathematics, and are over-represented in sectors most threatened by digitisation, automation and robotics – such as office and administrative positions. Although the number of women has outnumbered male university graduates in 95 of 144 countries surveyed and the percentage of women on large European company boards has almost doubled over the past five years to 25%, when it comes to achieving gender parity, there is still a long way to go.

The report found that:

  • Only one in four women have had career conversations about how their skills can be developed to ensure they have the capabilities for the jobs of the future – Career conversations provide the perfect opportunity to reaffirm strengths and align women’s goals and motivations with the organisation’s needs. Employers risk losing talent who are not self-promoting but cite recognition of ability as the top reason to take a senior position.
  • One in five women has never had an assessment of their skills and only one in four has had a conversation about how they can develop – Rarely a day goes by without news of digitisation, artificial intelligence and virtual reality impacting the workplace. It is vital that both employers and individuals understand the importance of up-skilling and ongoing career conversations.
  • 84% of women have not been able to find a sponsor in their organisation – the report identified that women tend to be over mentored and under sponsored. Mentors act as a sounding board and make women feel more comfortable, but they do not necessarily help them get ahead. Sponsors develop talent and help women get promoted – they are a conscious advocate for getting more women in the boardroom.

Mara Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent at ManpowerGroup, said: “Employers need to invest in career conversations to develop and retain women and ensure they have the skills needed to take advantage in shifts in industries and jobs so they are not left behind.

“While we cannot slow the rate of technological advance, we can invest in employees’ skills to increase the relevance and resilience of our people and organisations, regardless of gender or social background. It’s up to both employers and individuals to nurture learnability and up-skill.”

Ian Symes, Executive Vice President Europe, Right Management, added: “Leaders say gender parity is still at least a generation away – an average of 17 years – however, it is clear that unless we begin having career conversations now, women’s progress will stall. It’s time to shift the needle and for employers to help women explore development opportunities and take advantage of new roles to ensure they will succeed in the Skills Revolution.”

Right Management’s latest report explores the importance of career conversations to boost engagement among female employees, accelerate women into leadership roles and help close the gender gap. To learn more and download the report, visit:

This article first appeared in the seventh edition of The Human Age Newspaper.