Women face many work and employment-related challenges. From unequal pay with male counterparts, discrimination to sexual harassment, and other workplace gender bias issues. Some of these gender-based issues have been identified and steps are being taken to mitigate them. However, most of these challenges still exist and are yet to be combated. One of such is the lack of women, particularly leaders in shared services.
Women’s Representation in Shared Services Jobs
Research has given us an insight into the deficiency of female shared services leaders. A recent survey by the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON) on 620 shared services organisations indicated that 44% of such organisations employed more women than men while 33% employed an equal number of men and women. Despite the relatively high proportion of women in shared services, only a few women ever get to take up leadership positions.
In an analysis made from shared services roles in LinkedIn, it was revealed that more men were in leadership positions than women. 60% of managers were men, 74% were directors and 76% were heads of centres. This shows a significant lack of female shared services leaders.
A lot of factors can be traced to this significant lack but the most influencing factor will be the perception of women as primarily domestic caretakers. This traditional perception sees women as those who are meant to take care of children and perform household chores. This has made many shared services organisations believe women will not be fit to take up leadership positions since their primary assignment is viewed as a domestic one. Again, this belief has made many women themselves unwilling to take up leadership roles.
Bearing this in mind, domestic responsibilities should not be automatically used to determine women’s capabilities for leadership positions. Rather, shared services organizations should be ready to support more females to take up leadership positions by enabling a healthy culture system in their workplace. Also, an organization should not assume a female not fit for a career role due to domestic responsibilities without first of all consulting her.
To power more women to take up leadership positions in shared services, every member of the workplace needs to be thoroughly educated to shun gender biases. All should embrace gender equality and each gender should be given equal opportunities to take up roles to encourage diversity. It should be understood that women possess certain skills such as team playing, empathy, and the ability to take up a challenge. When women are placed in leadership positions, these skills will serve as a complement to the unique skills and strengths men possess.
Furthermore, organisations should have flexible work schedules that will allow women to cope with domestic roles while they are still effective in the workplace. When shared services organisations have a flexible work schedule that is favourable, it will bring out full efficiency in women.
Even though there exist still many things to be done to fully empower women, these few processes if taken will surely be a step further at embracing gender equality and encouraging diversity in the workplace. The BPO Philippines industry is one of the leading sectors that is allowing more women to enter the workplace and levelling the playing field. According to the International Labor Organisation, young Filipino women dominate BPO jobs by up to 59.3 per cent and Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) showed that Philippine women hold 39% of all senior management positions, second only to Russia in the world despite a decline in women roles all over the world since 2009.
The importance of empowering women in the workplace cannot be overemphasised. While the BPO industry is leading in creating gender parity, there’s still more work to be done as many challenges stand in the way of equality in the workplace. This will not happen overnight but through deliberate and conscious effort. International Women’s Day is a time to acknowledge and remember these challenges and commit to fighting them.