We spoke to Nigel Slater, Head of Management Consulting at KPMG, to see what he thinks of the challenges facing his business and industry right now. What can leaders do to tackle struggles head on and ultimately make their businesses more successful?
Let’s talk about the big issues
According to Nigel Slater, Head of Management Consulting at KPMG, it is time for action to level the playing field for women working in technology.
“The gender gap within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) professions, and more specifically those that specialise in technology, is vast. Last year only 18 percent of IT professionals working in the UK were female, even though women currently make up almost half of the UK workforce! We need to level the playing field for women.”
Fostering competition isn’t always the best approach
“To encourage both men and women to feel confident enough to apply for a role, employers should pay close attention to the language used and what it signals. Our research found that females responded better to positive language, as opposed to words with competitive connotations. When skimming through a job description or a marketing campaign, we found that women tended to be drawn to phrases which promote cooperation and team-working, as opposed to suggesting an environment of competition.”
Pay isn’t everything
Offering your employees a good salary isn’t everything, explains Slater. “Now more than ever emphasis is placed on opportunities for rapid career progression. As a result, learning and development should be taking centre stage when considering what to offer to new recruits.”
Employees like to meet management
“Engagement from company leadership is vital as it shows that they are listening and more importantly acting. They care about the ultimate goal and are willing to support – something that should inspire and motivate.”
Calling female leaders
“There needs to be real and visible evidence that it is possible to progress as a women to a senior management role in the business. When we asked female millennials, they told us that they can lack the confidence to apply for positions of responsibility, even if they feel qualified for the role. This is in large part due to a perception that these roles are typically filled by their male counterparts.
“My advice for companies looking to hire more women is that they need to focus on two things. Firstly, they need to enhance current leadership diversity. This will give the next generation female role models to look up to. And second, developing millennial talent in preparation for future leadership roles is vital.”
Mentors create relationships that deliver results
“One thing we have learnt at KPMG is that providing open access to senior mentors is vital. This helps the next generation to learn the skills they need to progress – whether they be male or female. While visible female leaders and mentors are vital, involvement of male mentors also demonstrates that endorsement of diversity. It also shows a commitment to gender parity comes from both sexes at a senior level.”
“Above all, we need to ensure the next generation of female leaders feel empowered, and inspired, to apply for positions of responsibility. Ultimately, companies need to show that they believe in the potential of all members of their workforce, irrespective of gender.”