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Breaking Barriers: A Closer Look at the FTSE Women Leaders Review

Updated: Feb 28

Yesterday I spent the morning at KPMG's London headquarters in Canary Wharf with @300 other women and a smaller number of men. We were listening to the results of this year's Women Leaders Review, a study measuring the proportion of women who are leaders in large organisations that's been running since 2011,. In that time, the number of women on boards of FT 350 companies has grown from 11% to 42%. The portion of women in executive leadership roles (executive committee and the next level down) stands at 35.2%, a marginal improvement on the past year. These are significant advancements, which have inevitably attracted some fear and criticism. Yet, in a world where 6 out of 10 senior leadership roles go to men, there doesn't seem to be too much for them to fear.

Beyond the headlines I was left wondering how the picture looks further down the organisation. We know that women often struggle to progress from more junior roles. It was great to hear about the increasing availability of shared parental leave; men who are prepared to take time out and talk about the positive effects with their peers. Emerging evidence that men who take an equal role in raising their children are happier and live longer is also encouraging.

Confidence once again came up as a self limiting belief that too often holds women back. We know this is an area where personal development, including one on one coaching, and mentoring, can make a difference. I'm proud to contribute to work with a small number of women through these interventions.

As one of the panelists concluded: 'I'm often asked what women bring to leadership, but never what men bring to it'. We have come a long way, but there is further to go.

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