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Man versus woman in arm wrestle

Employees believe men still favoured at work

A quarter of Australians believe employers favour men over women for leadership roles in the workplace, a new Randstad survey has found.

The research highlights a significant divide between men and women’s perceptions of gender imbalances at work. When looking for new managers, 40 percent of males say their employers consider existing levels of men and women in higher management, with only 25 percent of females agreeing.

Randstad CEO Fred van der Tang said the disparity between the perceptions of each gender is a concern, especially when it comes to the efforts of employers to recruit more women into leadership roles.

“Considering the current debate about female under-representation in leadership roles, I would expect more organisations to be actively taking steps to balance the scales. Clearly there is still plenty of work to be done.”

He suggests such inconsistency shows men and women are receiving very different messages about their employer’s approach to gender balance, which may indicate the need for better internal communication strategies.

28 percent of Australian employees say, even when there are equally suitable candidates, their employer will chose a man, regardless of current gender ratios already in higher positions.

“Whatever the reality of the situation, the perceptions of employees and the wider market are critical. As with any discrimination-based issue, when it comes to gender balance, it’s important to not only be doing the right thing, but to be known for doing the right thing.”

More than a third of employees would still rather have a man as their manager, with only 20 percent saying they would rather have a woman in charge. The research also shows that almost 80 percent of males have an immediate superior who is male, compared with less than half of female employees, showing that men are more likely to be managed by other men.

Randstad organisational psychologist, Kellie Rig says existing under-representation of women in leadership perpetuates the imbalance.

“Traditional male dominance in leadership positions, combined with the fact women have ongoing pressures of juggling family and work, often preventing them from taking on more senior positions, means many Australians may not be accustomed to, or expect to have, a female leader.

Van der Tang says gender balance is still a very real issue for organisations, and recruitment and HR consultants have an important role to play in evening up the scales.

“It’s important to emphasise that all hiring decisions should always be based on merit, that is, who is considered to be the best fit and the best person for the job. During the recruitment process, it is our role to ensure a range of candidates are presented, whether gender-based or otherwise, to encourage diversity.”