Women Want What Men Want. They just want more.

Act Like A LadyWhat do men want? Money, power, status, recognition. Sylvia Hewlett, CEO of the Centre for Talent Innovation, spoke to a large audience of women at the Fortune theatre. The American founding president, President of the Center for Work-Life Policy came to these conclusions as a result of research carried out across UK, USA and Germany of women from 45-50.

She found it is not about babies. She found that women want the same things as men, but they want more. Interestingly these are all things one might find as part of a “female culture”.

Here are the extra things that women want. They want to flourish.

They want to align power to purpose. They want to empower others and in doing so increase their own empowerment and gain fulfillment. You only do it if you’re going to do something amazing.

During a fabulous evening arranged by Eleanor Mills, Chair of Women In Journalism, a panel of five British women discussed challenges in the workplace for women.

Included in the panel were Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, a doctor and leading authority on health policy, Caroline Kean, partner in the law firm Wiggin LLP, Emma Barnett, Women’s Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Cristina Nicolotti Squires, editor of Channel 5 News.

It seems time and again we need to look outside the UK, for the women who tell it like it is, often Americans, whereas there is an abundance of female talent in this country whose expertise we could draw upon.

An article in the Evening Standard, some years ago looking at top women CEOs found them mostly to have been either born or educated abroad, mostly America.

In Norway, these women with multiple boardroom jobs have been dubbed “golden skirts”. This was due to a dramatic surge in the number of female directors, which rose from six per cent to 40% in six years as a result of quotas.

Gail Kelly of Westpac bank in Australia aimed to have 43% women in boardrooms by the time she left. Cheryl Burt at Australian Broadcasting Commission found they had around 50% throughout the organisation, sometimes more. Again, this was a direct result of legislation to increase women’s numbers and accountability. Are you listening Tony Hall, Director-General of BBC?

Anyone who has watched and waited for women’s equality, or even for women’s equal pay since 1968, has realised it is not going to happen. 

Rosemary Squire, Founder and joint CEO of the Ambassador Theatre Group, one of the biggest in the world, generously hosted an evening event on women and power at the Fortune theatre. Squire has first hand experience of how challenging it can be for women CEOs and women in leadership. She has come to the conclusion “that we need quotas.” Squire believed that by the time her children had grown up, as many women as men would be heading UK businesses. She was wrong.

During an interview with Emma Barnett, Women’s Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Squire said, “It’s shocking. I never thought I would live to say this – but things will never change in business unless we introduce quotas. We need quotas at board level and at the top of all businesses. It’s like not wearing seatbelts or smoking inside. No one’s going to stop doing it until they are told to. Men still do most of the appointing at the senior level in businesses and they appoint in their own vision: other men. It’s shocking. I never thought I would live to say this – but things will never change in business unless we introduce quotas.”

This is backed by Hewlett, who believes it is more common to see ambition as a disease and that the default thoughts are that women are not equally as clever or as aspiring as men. Therefore quotas would not be on merit, but rather a token to satisfy the statistics. Lord Davies is increasing the number of women on boards within the FTSE 100 to 33%, but still only non-executive directors. Perhaps the forming of the Women’s Equality Party influenced him. It seems to have made some politicians sit up and take notice including Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Hewlett says, “Here’s a startling statistic: less than one-quarter of mid-career, professional women aspire to a position of power, according to research from the Center for Talent Innovation. Only 26% of US women would unhesitatingly say yes if they were offered an executive leadership position in their profession tomorrow.”

It is not just attitudes which need to change it is the level of self-belief which women have in their abilities and the attitude to power and leadership. With the drive to provide more women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects, what can you do to mentor or sponsor a colleague who you believe has the talent?

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