What industries do you think are female friendly - defined as equal pay and an equal chance of progression in relation to your talent and capabilities? To what extent did you choose to take a role in housing and care on the assumption that you would be supported and given every opportunity equal to any man?
We recently celebrated International Women’s Day. It is interesting to consider what is it that makes us (perhaps even less consciously than we might believe) move towards or away from a particular industry because of the perception of a lack of equal rights, appropriate support when raising a family AND encouragement to be the best one can be in their job through relevant training, mentoring and leadership.
From anecdotal conversations, it is clear that the housing and care sector is one that attracts many women through its caring image and number of female employees, leaders and role models – 37% of board executives in the housing industry are women compared to 26% in FTSE 100 companies. However, it is equally clear that perhaps the sector has not met your expectations?
A ‘Diversity Study’ reported in Inside Housing last year and featuring the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Housing, stated that housing as a sector is more diverse than average, it employs a higher proportion of women, people from black and ethnic minority communities and people with a disability than average. But at the top of our organisations, in our boards and senior teams, it’s a different story.
Out of the 180 largest housing associations, only one in four have chief executives who are women.
A quarter of 100 boards reported having at least 50% female membership.
Perhaps the work life balance that you thought would be yours is as guilt filled as in any other workplace, IF you are assertive enough to take it. The glass ceiling is as present and transparent as everywhere else and the leadership programmes are designed with only one gender in mind.
Perhaps it is the case that being an industry that has a long tradition of employing large numbers of women there is a collective malaise and lack of confidence that means we do not consider or aspire to be something more than we currently are.
Perhaps I am being extreme to make a point but maybe not? If you think this is an area worth exploring, you would like to know what others think and consider what needs to be done, and/or how we can improve and be an industry leader in the field of supporting and growing the number of women in leadership roles, please email Helen@aviatrix.co.uk or post a comment on the Housing LIN discussion forum at: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/Discuss/
Working with Housing LIN, we would love to do the first housing with care industry-wide research study on this subject but only if you feel that there is something to answer. We look forward to hearing from you and what your thoughts are.