By Daniel Hunter

Proposals published around boosting opportunities for women in business is a step in the right direction, but still not far enough, says Beatrice Bartlay, Founder and Managing Director of 2B Interface. More focus should be placed on targeting women in mid-management positions, she suggested.

The Women’s Business Council published a report outlining measures it believes should be taken to ensure more females are represented in the workplace. Among other proposals, the report suggests that flexible working is an important consideration for women progressing up the career ladder.

“The outlines proposed are far more sensible suggestions than the female board members quotas which have been widely discussed and debated over the past two years,” said Bartlay. “However, there’s still a long way to go in ensuring that women are fulfilling their potential in British businesses.

“I fully support the notion that there has not been enough done to make sure that women are progressing into senior positions below board level, and without this, there is no way for organisations to boost female board members. Before setting the quotas, there should have been realistic suggestions for boosting women into managerial and senior positions, in order to pave the way for board level."

Women currently account for 46 per cent of the workforce, but only 33 per cent of managers, directors and senior officials. Bartlay believes that rather than Government policies setting quotas, which in the short term may be unrealistic, without the level below to fill these positions, women themselves, and employers need to work together, with support from Government to dispel the current gap between men and women.

“The announcement of school-age girls receiving mentoring and guidance is fantastic as a long term solution but more focus should be placed on supporting women’s progression and women pushing themselves," she said.

“More flexible working schemes need to be introduced. An increase in home working-enabling technologies in recent years has meant that flexible working is a truly viable option today. Many women who have had a career break to have children for example, want to get back into work on a flexible or part time basis but experience obstacles. Having children should not stunt a woman’s career and businesses should be nurturing talent at this stage to encourage more loyal, and happy employees. At the end of the day, happy employees work harder and provide better results.

“Women also need to be looking at how to represent themselves within business. Historically, women have made themselves more masculine — in character and wardrobe — in order to feel as though they are competing with their male counterparts. This is a counterproductive measure. Women should instead embrace their femininity, not flaunt it, and stand up against the struggle of getting to the top in business,” concluded Bartlay.

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