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Women at the top


I have been asked to facilitate a workshop to try and establish what the barriers are within our organisation in terms of women securing senior positions. Any ideas of suitable exercises that the delegates could undertake?

Thanks in advance, Marianne
marianne douglas

6 Responses

  1. Curious as to premise
    Hi Marianne,

    I’m unsure of your premise. Is this to meet a proven identified training need or an exercise to prove a theorem?
    As training is subject to equality laws I’d be very wary of excluding men and their views.

  2. Women at the top
    Hi Juliet

    Men are not being excluded. Within our organisation we do not have many women in top positions. I have been asked to facilitate a workshop to explore the issues with the view of creating some sensible action plans to try and remove some of the barriers. I was just interested to see if anyone had done anything else like this and if they had any ‘creative’ ideas for getting the discussions going?

  3. Interview Success Stories
    Hi Marianne
    I have just finished a successful project with a large international company with a similiar challenge. We ran a group coaching programme (self managed learning) with 2 groups of women. During the programme the women interviewed successful women and men within and outside of the organisation to find out what they had done to advance their career. They also did a lot of analysis about their personal goals and what they needed to do to achieve the next promotion. By the end of the programme a large number of the group had been promoted to more senior positions.
    The process lead to a real insight into the barriers within that organisation and more importantly helped each individual to plan their own approach to those barriers.
    Hope this helps, let me know if you need more information

  4. Confused
    Thanks ever so for the clarity Marianne

    Why were your groups only women? Why did only women benefit from the training? Isn’t that positive discrimination – to offer and deliver training on the basis of gender to the detriment of the other gender? Am thinking of doing one myself but dont want to fall foul of anything


  5. Confusion Clarified
    Hi Juliet
    I hope I can clear things up for you on this point! The company ran a programme for mixed group but offered women an option for women only. It was in recognition that there was a problem in the organisation in women being able to get into leadership roles and so there was felt to be an advantage in women addressing this together. It is about the organisation having the maturity to recognise that there was a specific issue for women employees and so the need for space for them. Male employees could join the mixed groups.
    My understanding is that you can positively discriminate in the area of training but I would also say that this was less about discrimination and more about choice!
    Hope that helps

  6. Ways and means
    Positive action is allowed under equality legislation in order to better equip under-represented groups to compete for jobs on equal terms. So your training should be fine, Marianne.

    One idea to supplement the more substantial offerings you have been given would be to construct an exercise for mixed groups of managers to undertake on ‘exploratory’ or ‘team days’. This could be used to raise awareness of subtle prejudices. One that I understand works well in some contexts is to ask small groups to suggest suitable careers for a character whose personality, interests etc are described on a handout. A different version is given to each small group – but the only difference is in the character’s name/sex – one is given (for example) Joan and the other John. Youi then use a full group discussion to analyse the results. In what ways do the suggestions differ – and what assumptions did the groups make to get to these?


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