Sector News

It’s official: women over 55 make the best bosses

May 27, 2015
Diversity & Inclusion
Succeeding in the business world can be difficult, especially if you’re a woman.
 
A recent study from the International Labour Organisation found there are only three countries in the world where you are more likely to have a female boss than a male one: Jamaica, Colombia and Saint Lucia.
 
Britain was ranked number 41 out of 108 countries, with only 34.2 per cent of managers being female.
 
However, there’s a silver lining. Research has revealed that women over the age of 55 make the best bosses.
 
Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed 6,000 European professionals and found the largest proportion of “strategist leaders” were females over 55.
 
The study says these women are more likely to “see situations from multiple perspectives, employ positive language and exercise power courageously” when compared to their male counterparts.
 
Consultant Jessica Leith said that women over the age of 55 are often the demographic that is most “overlooked” when companies considering hiring for management rolls.
 
Leitch said organisations need to “expand their definition of talent” and not look to recruit “the image of existing leaders”.
 
“Historically, women over the age of 55 would not have been an area of focus, but as the research suggests, this pool of talent might hold the key transformation and in some cases, business survival.”
 
A recent report from Gallup also found female managers are more likely than males to be more involved with their work and inspire employees who are more dedicated to their jobs.
Age at Work Director at Business in the Community Rachael Saunders called the research “interesting” adding that the role of motherhood could be a contributing factor as to why older women make better bosses as they are therefore used to “managing” and looking after people.
 
Despite research suggesting older women are better suited to managerial roles, of the one third of women in these roles, those over the age of 40 earn 35 per cent less than male managers.
 
Saunders blames this on an unconscious bias in the workplace and advocates for specialist training to eradicate this bias: “Nobody intends to discriminate, but we all have these biases that say women of a certain age don’t make good managers or that it’s time for them to retire.”
 
Lindsay Nicholson, editorial director of Good Housekeeping, hopes the research will spark a change in the industry: “Women over 55 have hithero been invisible in business terms. What is happening now is a wonderful unleashing of previously untapped talent.”
 
By Saffron Alexander
 

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