Half a million female managers ‘missing’ from UK workforce, report finds

Research also shows those with disabilities and lower socioeconomic and ethnic minority backgrounds are underrepresented in management roles

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Around 560,000 female managers are ‘missing’ from the UK workforce, a report by the Chartered Management Institute has found.

The Everyone Economy report, released today, revealed that an additional 800,000 female managers would be needed in the workforce to equal the proportion of females in the UK population by 2026.

The research also found there were 420,000 fewer managers with lower socioeconomic backgrounds, 290,000 fewer disabled managers, and 100,000 fewer managers from diverse ethnic groups than if their proportion was equal to their share of the population as a whole.


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Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said the findings were a “wake-up call” that employers needed to do more to invest in inclusion and diversity. “A lack of diversity in the leadership of an organisation will only hamper business and public services,” she said.

“We now need all employers and the government to step up and accelerate the pace of change, especially as growth is faltering and thousands of employers see skills shortages.”

The report, which surveyed 2,066 UK employees, found more than half (52 per cent) of respondents had been overlooked for opportunities because of their identity, while two in five (41 per cent) said they had witnessed colleagues being negatively affected by their background at work.


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According to the report, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of LGBTQ+ and a similar proportion (63 per cent) of black employees said they had been discriminated against at work.

The survey, which also polled 1,149 managers, found that male managers were more than twice as likely as female managers to say that organisations place ‘too much effort’ on achieving gender balance in the workplace (33 per cent and 13 per cent respectively).

Female managers with children were twice as likely as male managers with children to say that they had missed out on promotions (37 per cent compared with 27 per cent), pay rises (33 per cent compared with 20 per cent) and stretch projects (30 per cent compared with 19 per cent).

Despite this, 80 per cent said their organisations were inclusive, regardless of background or protected characteristics.

Adam Marshall, former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and a council member of the CMI, said the gap between what employers say and what they do when it comes to inclusion and diversity was “still far, far too large”.

“As an LGBT+ business person myself, I can relate to many of the experiences that were uncovered by the survey work for this landmark report. We can, and must, do better at using all of the talent we have in the UK, and I am proud to see CMI leading the way to make it happen,” he said.