Mentors mean more to careers than fat cheques

A lack of women in senior positions to mentor and encourage other women is the single most important issue facing women in business, according to results of a recent survey.

Some 42 per cent of respondents who attended last month's Womenfuture MainEvent nominated it as the main problem facing women in business, while only 3 per cent said pay disparity was the number one issue.

Conducted by Accenture and Baker & Mckenzie, the survey found 71 per cent of women believe that men network more effectively and inclusively than women, while 96 per cent believed that Australian companies do not offer solutions that address quality of life issues.

Having an effective role model was selected as the single most important factor to help women achieve success in business, with effective leadership skills the most important attribute to help achieve business success.

According to Accenture partner Brenda LaPorte the survey highlighted the need for women currently in senior positions to become more effective role models for younger women in business.

"Role models play a significant part in the professional development of all individuals, regardless of gender. What has been highlighted [in this survey] is that women currently in senior positions need to take a more active role in the continued development of younger women in business," LaPorte said.

She said it is inexcusable for senior women to think that because it was tough for them they can just sit back and watch others struggle.

"The women who do make it to senior positions need to fulfil their obligation to assist young women through behind them," LaPorte said.

Baker & McKenzie partner, Anne-Marie Allgrove agreed that developing effective mentor programs is a key priority, but also stressed the importance of organisations addressing quality of life issues for all employees.

"It is a challenge for all organisations in this world of 24x7 demand, but it is imperative, if we are going to retain the best staff, to ensure that we address quality of life issues for all employees, men and women, and adopt a more flexible approach to enable employees to find an appropriate balance for their work and lifestyle needs," Allgrove said.

The survey also found 83 per cent of respondents believe that Australian companies are less progressive than their global counterparts when it comes to offering and implementing programs that promote business leadership for women.

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