EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-MacKenzie is advising business women to build strong relationships with other women in their company after a new Australasian report shows women seem to have less respect for other women than men do.
Leadership Management Australasia (LMA), the company behind the research, says this creates a potential major drawback for equal opportunities at work.
The Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) survey is based on responses from almost 3000 business people in Australia and New Zealand including SME owner/managers.
Around half of the respondents in each group of leaders, managers and employees surveyed believe men respect women in the workplace to a great extent. Yet only a third of each group believes women respect other women in the workplace to the same great extent.
LMA chief executive Andrew Henderson says the findings shed a “disturbing” light on women’s attitudes towards other women at work. “Women are not necessarily doing themselves any favours in advancing their cause.”
Cassidy-MacKenzie says she’s not surprised by the findings as she knows anecdotally this is happening in New Zealand.
“Many of the business women I talk to say very similar things.”
She attributes it in part to the Queen Bee mentality that makes some senior business women not want other women to also take a leading role in their organisation “so they hold them back a little bit”.
This is definitely happening in small companies, she says, although it is probably worse in larger organisations.
Cassidy-MacKenzie advises any woman feeling undermined by other women in the company to make time to build relationships with them.
“Don’t block them out even if you feel they are not supportive of you. Be inclusive.... Especially in SMEs, people have to work collaboratively in order to succeed.”
LMA says the research helps explain why little or no progress is being made in achieving gender equality in the workplace.
“The glass ceiling sadly seems to be alive and well with perspectives from men and women differing widely as to how well or poorly equality is being achieved in the workplace.”
LMA advises business managers to:
• Ensure opportunities are genuinely being made available to both women and men.
• Look for “quick wins” in addressing any negative perceptions about how the genders are treated in the company.
• Look for opportunities to demonstrate respect towards women from both men and other women.