Debate: Norms must be challenged and the view of leadership renewed if we are to manage the supply of managers

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In order to manage the supply of managers going forward, norms need to be challenged and the view of management renewed. The supply of competence at the higher levels needs to be ensured in the long term and one way is to identify and invest in talent early in the career. 48 percent of those who work in Sweden are women – yet women are underrepresented as managers. Among managers, the percentage of women is only 41 percent, and the higher you go in the management ranks, the worse it gets. Of the country’s CEOs, only 18 percent are women. In Swedish listed companies, the figure is embarrassingly low, only 11 percent of CEOs are women! In order to get the best managers at all levels, we need to use all skills and change the image of leadership as a male arena. For the 17th year in a row, Ledarna is therefore highlighting the female leaders of the future. A list of 75 modern leaders, who are also young and women, a list that turns on its head outdated notions of who gets to be a boss. Despite the fact that the benefits of equality and diversity among managers and management teams are well known, development is too slow. Greater diversity means that more perspectives and experiences are included in the decision-making process, which contributes to a more well-balanced and nuanced view of problems and solutions. Businesses’ efficiency, productivity, innovativeness and work environment benefit from more equal gender distribution, diversity and inclusion at all levels and sectors. The results of Wes Insight’s report The Recruitment Paradox (2023) reveal an important insight: many employers are not tapping into the rich pool of skills, talent and potential that are out there, despite the fact that large parts of the Swedish labor market are in dire need of skills. We believe that there is a waste of skills rather than a lack of skills at managerial level in society. The leaders’ forthcoming survey, the Equality Barometer (2023), shows that 29 percent of managers respond that there is no active work for gender equality in their workplace, which is an increase of 10 percentage points since 2016. Only 6 percent of managers have personally been offered some form of training in gender equality. It is almost halved compared to 2016, when the percentage was 10 percent. The results from both of these reports show that the image of who can and wants to be a manager must be broadened and developed. And role models are needed. When women and men are represented at similar levels in management positions, it can inspire others to follow suit. This challenges prejudices and expectations that might otherwise prevent people from taking on management positions. Our recommendation to all employers is the following: • Update the way you recruit managers. • Utilize the entire skill pool, require a diversity of candidates. • Set a long-term strategy with requirements and clear goals regarding what the composition and management supply should look like in the future, with clear leadership from the board. • Develop inclusive leadership. Diversity is not enough; a leadership that continuously and actively strives for increased openness, responsiveness and curiosity about new perspectives is a key to long-term success. Diversity and learning are connected, so activities that promote learning in the organization are needed. Equality is a human right, and it is important to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities and rights regardless of gender. A more even gender distribution among managers is an important step towards achieving this goal. It is equally important to ensure that Swedish competence supply is secured in the long and short term. Then we cannot continue to waste potential and talent. Instead, we need to encourage, make visible and pave the way for positive social development at the highest level. Andreas Millerconfederation chairman Ledarna, Sweden’s executive organizationCarolina EngströmCEO Wes

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