- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Treat us differently but equally

95% of high-flying women believe they are not recognized or promoted on an equal basis to men compared to 67% in 2005

Survey of more than 400 women in Europe conducted by Eve-olution & JUMP

Once again, women say that fat salaries, fast cars and ‘playing the corporate game’ are of no interest to them according to the findings of the ‘Women Leaders Speak Out’ 2012 Survey’. Over 400 women in management took part in the survey conducted within the framework of the Brussels 6th JUMP Forum – the event for advancing women in the workplace. The new results show that women have become more despondent since the survey was last run in 2005 and are still seeking a corporate environment that recognises their strengths and skills. The majority of women considered their skills to be different from those of male colleagues, but still feel that some companies see their skills as subordinate.

Women managers are attracted to companies that have integrated new management styles in a culture that respects equality and diversity, in particular gender diversity.

The Survey, involving women from major corporate firms, is a further wake-up call for many employers who have yet to recognise the benefits of women in the management and boardrooms. Women can immediately  see through the rhetoric of so-called equal and diverse employment policies and would rather leave than stay in an environment where they do not feel valued or respected for the difference they bring.

Many myths perpetuate about the exodus of women, not least that they are leaving to raise families or are not career motivated. This research shows that, in reality, these reasons account for little when women think of leaving. The respondents are moving away from a culture that fails to acknowledge “difference”, or interprets difference to mean inferior to other models.

Key survey findings:

  • 95% of women believe that they are not recognised or promoted on an equal basis to men compared to 67% in 2005;
  • 75% think that companies do not place a high enough value on skills such as communication, team building and relationships which is roughly equal to 2005 results;
  • 74% are of the opinion that not enough time and money is invested in training men and women to work more effectively together compared to 82% in 2005.
  • 85% say that having female “role models” is important for career success, which is the same as 2005. However, they want to be inspired by “real” women who have chosen to have both a career and a family life and not those women who try to model themselves on their male colleagues.

The growing dissatisfaction of women can be explained by their increased awareness of the value and skills they can bring to a company. They know that companies need them and that if their skills were more highly valued this would have a more positive impact on their company’s success. Women no longer believe that they are usurping men by working and assuming responsibility. They are not afraid to assert the difference they can bring and they want to remain true to themselves even when they make it to the top. However, some respondents think that women and men are exactly alike and prefer not to focus on the cultural differences because they want to be treated in exactly the same way as their male colleagues. Nevertheless, such reactions are becoming more and more rare, which leaves room for differences to be highlighted, recognised and valued.

Tracey Carr, founder and CEO of Eve-olution said: “The survey illustrates that little has changed since 2005 despite the recent spotlight on the lack of women leaders in top management and on boards across Europe. Women leaders are motivated by values, differences and corporate culture. Women want the debate to move away from family and childcare issues to the more challenging areas of stereotypes, perceptions and prejudices. It is vital that companies recognise and acknowledge gender differences and encourage open discussion around the issues.”

Even after the vote in favour of gender quotas in the Boards of Directors, the debate on equality in the workplace remains relevant. The gender imbalance pervades all levels of decision-making beyond the “middle management” but also prevalent at the horizontal level where women are more numerous in support functions (human resources communications, legal, …) than in production or sales positions, which are often professionally and financially more rewarded.

Eve-olution and JUMP urge senior leaders to listen to what the women in the survey are saying: “Most women don’t speak out about these issues and then find reasons to leave. If companies op for total equality in the workplace that defies stereotypes and values ALL models of leadership they will soon attract and retain some of the best talent around. That’s got to be good for business.”

Isabella Lenarduzzi, the founder of JUMP explains why JUMP chose the pink colour as a brand and as a statement  “Pink is a symbol of femininity and JUMP also wants it to be a colour associated with business and power. “ We don’t want to hide our femininity and core values any longer, or adapt them to the dominant leadership style in order to progress in our careers. Women in today’s workplace, even those in top positions, must now express their feminine values with pride. “


1. ’Women Leaders Speak Out’ survey findings will be presented at the Jump conference on April 26th 2012  and available on www.eve-olution.net and on www.jump.eu.com

2. Eve-olution Ltd provides diversity consultancy and training in the UK, US and Europe. The team have collectively worked in diversity over a decade, with expertise that covers the law, psychology, gender, cross-cultural differences, globalisation, communications and strategy. info@eve-olution.net

3. JUMP “Empowering women, advancing the Economy” provides women in Europe with practical tools to help them achieve their professional aspirations and supports organisations and companies wanting to promote gender diversity at management level. www.jump.eu.com – Subscribe online to the receive the fortnightly newsletter, free of charge.