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自信缺失,英国职业女性须学习美国同行

Domini Pettifar 2012年03月22日

国际妇女节刚刚过去,可惜最新报道显示,女性在董事会里取得的进展仍然微不足道:全球范围内只有10%的董事职位由女性占据。同时,英国政府正在考虑为企业设定女董事配额,而英国一位商界女性则鼓励女同胞们展现更加自信的面貌。——佩蒂•塞勒斯

    英国商界女性是不是仍然欠缺勇气?藉此机会,我非常严肃地提出这个问题。如今,女性董事问题非常热门,已经远远超出了董事会议室这个小天地。英国首相戴维•卡梅伦称,他将会考虑设定配额,迫使企业增加女性董事的数量。而一年前,默文•戴维斯勋爵发布了一份措辞严厉的报告,呼吁富时100指数成份股公司在2015年前将女董事比例从现在的15%提高到25%。

    这些措施用心良苦,但恐怕效果不佳。很少有人会否认,董事会中的男女比例应当与整个企业中男女员工的比例相符,它对企业经营和整个社会的福祉都很有好处。可是,没有哪家公司喜欢政府指手画脚,告诉他们该如何运营公司,女士们也不希望单纯因为法律要求而当上董事。人们会怀疑这样的董事会到底是精英主义、还是平庸主义的产物。

    更重要的是,这类措施完全没有触及英国企业董事会中女性比例奇低的根源——这就再次引出了我在文章一开始提出的问题:英国女性是否应当像美国同行学习,变得更加自信?咨询公司Augmentum的数据显示,富时250成份股公司只有9%的董事是女性;如果你觉得这个数据还不算低得可怜的话,那我得提醒你,就这9%还包括了许多美国女士,比如才华横溢的巴柏莉(Burberry)女掌门安吉拉•阿伦茨和Logica女董事简•芭比阿克。领导英国企业的美国女强人为数不少,除阿伦茨之外,培生集团(Pearson)首席执行官马乔里•斯卡迪诺和英美资源集团(Anglo American)首席执行官辛西娅•卡罗尔也都来自美国。

    这是什么缘故?英国领导与管理协会(the Institute of Leadership & Management)的一份新调查显示,男人在职场上的自信程度比女人高出30%。如果我们女人自己都不相信自己有能力进入董事会——并站稳脚跟,那怎么可能说服别人相信我们?

    我认为,英国职业女性中流行着一种严重缺乏自信的地方病,跟美国同行们的情况截然不同。

    根据我的经验,英国社会对大多数女孩的职业前途并不抱太高期望,这是上述现象的成因之一。我父亲是一位传统的军官,我从小在女修道院接受教育,至于我的职业前途,从来没人关心过。哥哥从牛津大学(Oxford)拿到了不错的学位,我却宁愿少接受点高等教育,以便尽快开始全职工作。

    Do British businesswomen need more swagger? It is a question I raise, in all seriousness, as the subject of women as corporate directors has become a hot topic well beyond the boardroom. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would consider instituting quotas to increase the participation of women on boards--a year after Lord Mervyn Davies issued a scathing report calling for companies on the FTSE 100 to increase the proportion of their female directors to 25% by 2015, from about 15% today.

    These efforts are well-intentioned but fraught. Few would dispute that a boardroom that reflects the workforce is anything but good for business (and the general well being-of society). But no corporation wants to be told how to manage its business by government, and women don't want to secure seats on boards to simply to satisfy legislation. They will wonder if it's mediocracy or meritocracy.

    More importantly, these measures do nothing to address the root cause of the abysmally low numbers of women on U.K. corporate boards--which brings me back to my original question: Do women in the U.K. need to be more assertive, more like their U.S. counterparts?Consider Augmentum Consulting's figure that women make up just 9% of the boards of FTSE 250 companies; if this wasn't a poor enough result in itself, this 9% is made up of many female U.S. nationals, such as the highly talented Angela Ahrendts of Burberry (BURBY) and Logica's Jan Babiak. (The number of American women leading U.K.-based companies is also notable: Besides Burberry's Ahrendts, Pearson's (PSO) CEO Marjorie Scardino and Anglo American (AGPPY) CEO Cynthia Carroll also hail from the U.S.)

    What gives? A new piece of British research by the Institute of Leadership & Management concluded that men were 30% more confident than women in the workplace. If we as women don't believe in our own ability to reach the boardroom--and stay there--what hope do we have that others will believe in us?

    I believe there is a real lack of self-belief endemic in the female working population of the U.K. and one that is at complete odds with our U.S. counterparts.

    Part of the problem stems from a society that, in my experience, doesn't place high expectations on most girls' career prospects. As a convent-educated female of a very traditional Army Officer father my professional aspirations were never discussed. Whilst my brother went on to gain a good degree from Oxford I limited my higher education preferring to get into full-time employment as quickly as possible.

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