Perspectives from Beyond the Glass Ceiling

Perspectives from Beyond the Glass Ceiling

September 06, 2012 at 10:09am

A recent GE survey revealed a surprising phenomenon among female managers at multinational companies in the region.

Although nearly all of them said their career was important to them, more than half of the respondents said they do not plan to pursue senior leadership positions at their companies.

For Wayne Davies, HR Director of GE Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, and the person who commissioned the poll, this was an unexpected and unfortunate result, given the benefits that diversity brings to the workplace.

As Davies told The National, having a multicultural, mixed-gender workforce is good for business. “The more diverse your team, the more balanced it will be, the more inputs it will have, the more entrepreneurial. This goes way beyond something that’s nice to do and really gives us [at GE] a competitive advantage.”

The study also found that women in the region are under-represented in the workplace, despite comprising nearly half of all graduates and more than 60 percent of post-graduates. “With such a strong talent pipeline, it was important to understand why they are not represented in similar numbers in the office,” Davies says.

Upon digging deeper, he found that men and women look for different things from their jobs. While men look for job security, power, money and promotion, women are more focused on job satisfaction, work-life balance and personal development.

Because companies in the region typically offer senior executives the things men are looking for, e.g., power and money, and not what women look for, e.g., work-life balance and job satisfaction, the executive office isn’t as attractive a place for women as it is for men.

By failing to offer professional women the incentives and work environment they need, employers are discouraging the very people they need most. The lesson, then, for human resource departments across the region: create a workplace culture that gives all employees what they need – else pay the price in productivity, innovation and customer service.

As Davies and GE have seen, this imbalance of incentives can be addressed in order to attract, develop and retain female talent. GE is already rolling out ambitious policies to do this.

GE’s initiatives include offering flexible working hours and a longer maternity leave than required by local laws. The company also has introduced a mentorship program to encourage top female talent and a “reverse mentoring” program to give GE CEOs insight into the issues concerning female employees.

Davies will present the findings of the study and GE’s experiences, as a speaker at 2012 IIR Human Resource Summit and Expo taking place November 18-22 at the Ritz Carlton DIFC. In his presentations, he will focus on building diversity in the workplace and supporting the career growth of women.

For more on these and many other topics that can help your company operate more competitively, be sure to attend the HR summit. Click here for more information.

To hear Wayne Davies speak about diversity in the workplace, please click here.

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