This International Women's Day, I interviewed Caroline Wayman, partner at PA Consulting and she shared her thoughts on how we can #BreakTheBias.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
1. Which bias would you like to break about women at work in 2022?
That women need to be more assertive. Firstly. I think that this is a general misconception and secondly because too much conversation still centres around getting women to change their behaviour. We should all be creating inclusive cultures and environments that bring the best out of everyone. I think it’s a really outdated view that leads people to think that there is only one way to lead. Truly inclusive leadership recognises that people interact and lead in a range of ways.
2. Do you think that more companies adopting a hybrid working pattern has helped to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working for women and why?
I think that the pandemic has helped shift a lot of pre-conceptions about hybrid working and created an environment that makes it much more possible for us all to be able to give our best at home and at work. I don’t think this is an issue that is only about women in the workplace, I think that our collective experience over the last two years has helped shift some old-fashioned views and moved the dial on presenteeism.
3. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?
That there are many different ways and styles to be successful and to be generous with your time and your advice. I have been very fortunate to be the beneficiary of great advice from a wide range of colleagues and contacts over the years. It’s really helped me to develop my own thinking over the years and as leaders, I think we should all look to contribute to helping one another and future generations.
4. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think that sadly my answer is probably bias and misconceptions. I do think that one day it would be great not to have to talk about barriers specifically for women, but unfortunately, we are not there yet. I think that a fair bit of the bias is unconscious, but there is still a long way to travel. Having spent most of my career in and around financial services, I am afraid it’s still the case that there are too few women at the top of organisations. It’s also really disappointing that the discussion still centres around people making the point that it’s the best candidate for the job. Of course, and that should see more women in senior positions. There are tons of brilliant and capable people out there and many of them are women!