December 22 2014 - Julia Meighan, Chief Executive of specialist corporate and marketing communications recruiter, VMA Group argues that women in the
communications sector fail to achieve boardroom positions because of differences in communications styles between men and women. The issue is mainly
one of language, rather than skills, she contends.
She feels that, on the whole, female professionals tend to try to connect with individuals in order to build effective relationships. Men, on the
other hand, focus their efforts on gaining legitimacy through a demonstration of their results.
Many boards are still male dominated so women will struggle to gain credibility needed to influence the top team and secure a high profile position unless they
modify their communications approach.
Many commentators believe that quotas and flexible working practices will increase the number of female board representatives but
she argues that lack of progress to date is evidence that these options do not address the key issue.
According to Julia Meighan:
"Part of the reason little progress has been made on this issue is a basic misconception as to the true challenge we're facing. In most cases it is not conscious discrimination
where women feel unable to progress, nor is it a lack of support for working mothers - we work in a highly flexible environment whereby professionals of all levels and both
genders can work around their personal needs.
"The answer is more subtle, and is one around the language of business and how men and women communicate. At the risk of over-simplifying the matter, in most - though of course not
all - instances, females will focus on emotional intelligence in their management style and board-level communications. Men, in comparison, will often place much more emphasis on
legitimacy and empirical evidence.
"While the distinction is often slight, it is enough to create a barrier to success for women at companies with male dominated Management Executives."
The 2010 annual survey from the Broadcast Training and Equality Regulator (BETR) assessed equal
opportunities in the broadcasting industry based on gender, race and disability, considering best practice and the relative success of
various strategies to improve diversity. The report drew on data from seventy organisations in TV, radio, cable and satellite, covering
a total of approximately 61 000 employees.
The survey found that women made up 25 per cent of board members in companies surveyed, more than double the national average of 12 per cent for FTSE 100 companies.
This suggests that women have significantly more opportunity to reach board level in broadcasting compared to many other industries.
The percentage of employees with a declared disability was unchanged at 2 per cent. Researchers suggest the true figure may be significantly higher.
Disability status was recorded as "unknown" for 12.2 per cent of the workforce. UK statistics suggest that there were around 9.6 million people (approximately 15 per cent of
the population) who could be defined as having a disability under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act.
The survey found that 11 per cent of employees were from Black, Asian & minority ethnic (BAME) groups, lower than in some other sectors. However, employees from
minority communities and those with disabilities were represented in similar proportions at all levels of their organisations, suggesting higher retention and good career