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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Interview: Ann Francke, Chief Executive, Chartered Management Institute


Why is the pay gap still prevalent when more and more women are in the workplace? In this practical report, Cherie Blair CBE and Ann Francke explain why and – more importantly – what you can do about it.

1. How are employers’ expectations of managers changing?

One of the biggest expectations of managers today is that they need to manage continual change. Change is around us all the time. Managers have to be able to deal with incredible complexity and volatility which means they need to be much more agile in how they approach management.

For me there are three megatrends which are transforming the role of management. Managers need to become inclusive, by increasing diversity and bringing their ethics to work. They need to move from cultures dominated by a controlling style of management, to a coaching style, which will build an environment of respect and trust, getting better results. And they need to move from competition to collaboration: embracing the collaborative possibilities that the web has given us and using those more organisationally, becoming more connected, more agile and flatter.

Managers also need to be more authentic and personable. Ten years ago it was acceptable for managers to be stand-offish but now it’s more about managers being able to be themselves, balanced by awareness of their influence and an ability to project themselves well to the people around them. It’s a skill that we need, but one that many managers don’t have.

CMI’s new Hidden Heroes web app is exactly about this issue. It’s a light-hearted way of focusing on some of the big issues that are transforming management and leadership – but make no mistake, these are serious changes that throw up big challenges for managers, and for employers. We’ve got to make changes now in how we develop managers to make sure they’re fit for the future.

2. What are the fundamental mistakes modern managers are making?

One of the biggest fundamental mistakes that managers are making is that they are not taking management seriously.

Over many years, we’ve seen a rise in the “accidental manager”; by saying that I am really good at my function so I’ll be a great manager of people, just isn’t true. Whether it’s lawyers, engineers, marketers, sales people, or any other part of working life, managing people demands a whole new set of skills.

But it isn’t being seen as a conscious skill set that needs to be acquired. Just like you learned to become great at your tasks, you have to learn to become great at managing people and the resources that go along with them. My new book is all about helping this. It’s meant to give some really simple, practical tips to help those who are new to managing – and to help those who have some experience to refresh and develop their ideas and how they go about working.

3. Do you notice differences in the way that Generation Y and Baby Boomers manage others?

Yes, there are some differences. Part of it’s to do with management level. Baby boomers or senior managers tend to have a different view of an organisation’s engagement levels. On the whole, they need to develop their self awareness and perception. Many need to practise a much more open management style and would benefit by embracing the trends towards more inclusive, more coaching and more collaborative styles.

On the other hand, the Gen Y are more predisposed to these characteristics and are on the whole are much more aware of the coaching and open behaviours. The whole job for life is an anachronistic concept to Gen Y and I think the recognition that they aren’t going to be as well off as the baby boomers has led GenY to a more rounded definition of success.

I think that’s really important for management and leadership in the 21st century actually. Yes, we need more sustainable businesses and more long term growth, but at the same time, success isn’t just about power and money. There has to be a human measure of success.

4. CMI has spoken out strongly about the need for employers to do more to support women managers through the talent pipeline. As a successful female leader yourself, what do you see as the main obstacles to women taking on senior leadership positions? And what can be done to encourage female talent in more senior positions?

Women are dropping out because they don’t feel they fit the culture. The culture may be too dog-eat-dog or too masculine, like when meetings are held on the golf course. These cultures aren’t inclusive and don’t allow women to feel comfortable. Alongside that are all the assumptions: that when a woman comes back from maternity leave that she isn’t interested anymore, or she doesn’t want that more challenging position.

There are practical things that many employers are already offering like flexible working, but we’ve got to do more than that. Work culture needs to change. It’s as simple as having open conversations about how the organisation operates, not letting bias take hold, and consistently being inclusive in how you do things. That will change the culture and encourage women to stay and develop.

Plus, sponsoring and mentoring will help. Senior leaders – men and women – should reach out to the women in their organisation at the junior and middle levels and help them. Encourage them to go for the next step because that can make all the difference.  

And remember, an inclusive culture builds confidence in both men and women. The workplace cultures that will be better for women will also turn out better for men.

Fundamentally organisations need to know where they are. They need an awareness of the talent pipeline: how many women hold junior, middle and senior management roles versus men, and what are the differences in pay? If there are holes in diversity, then targets can be set to close them.

5. Do you think Generation Y females will experience the same struggles when it comes to getting to the board rooms as those who have come before them?

I hope not. Every generation is characterised as being more optimistic and certainly in my generation, we thought we’d cracked the glass ceiling. Of course, we haven’t.

I think it’s an issue that women and men need to keep at, to make sure that we actually change the management culture rather than drop out when it no longer suits us. But I really believe employers and individuals can act together and we make a big change on this.

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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