West businesswomen reject boardroom quotas and ‘glass ceiling’ theory, survey shows

April 8, 2014

Less than a quarter of businesswomen in the West of England believe a ‘glass ceiling’ is impeding their career, according to the results of a new survey released today.

At the same time just over half reject the idea, recommended by some business groups, of mandatory targets for women in the boardroom.

The findings emerge from the first survey of more than 500 businesswomen across the region staged by West-based accountants Bishop Fleming, which has an office in Bristol.

The results also show that 83% feel their biggest priority is their work-life balance, while 35% see mentoring as the best way to support their career and 33% believe local networking events with like-minded women are vital to their career progression.

Respondents ranged from business owners to senior executives in a wide range of businesses from sole traders to public corporations.

More than a quarter were self-employed – significantly higher than the national average.

Bishop Fleming director Fleur Lewis, pictured, who composed the survey, said: “We are delighted by the response. Women in business throughout the West Country are clearly keen to voice their opinions on the issues facing them in the work place.

“Despite recent debate, it is interesting that the majority of respondents did not think mandatory targets should be set by Government for ‘token women' in the boardroom: they were much more interested in women achieving their potential on merit and not to meet Government diversity targets.

“One of the most thought-provoking statistics from our respondents, for both self-employed and employed women, was that career ambitions would be better boosted by access to mentoring and networking with like-minded people.

“Not surprisingly, better availability of funding also featured highly for business owners whereas for those employed, cultural changes and better affordable childcare were important to help them progress.”

She said the first two items should be easy to deliver, but the third demanded a re-think by most boardrooms and senior management teams.

“It is important, though, that this re-think does not include an artificial target for women in the boardroom: most of our respondents rejected that idea,” Mrs Lewis said.

“While financial reward was high on the agenda for our respondents, when asked about career success, women working in the West Country are clearly driven by other factors. By far the majority of those surveyed indicated that a good work-life balance and job satisfaction are key to success for them.”

Bishop Fleming, which focuses on owner-managed businesses, also has offices in Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay, Truro and Worcester.

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