Female bosses have the edge in small businesses

Micro businesses are the only types of companies to favour female managers over male ones, with women generally performing better than men in senior roles, according to new research.


The Australian Institute of Management for Victoria and Tasmania surveyed 3,026 male and female executives, with men making up 38% of the participants.


The survey reveals micro organisations – employing one to four people – have 53% of female managers compared to 47% of male managers, making it the only business sector based on size to do so.


According to AIM Victoria chief executive Susan Heron, this figure highlights the high number of women who decide to start their own business out of sheer frustration.


“A lot of these women have been in the mainstream workforce and are frustrated at their inability to further their ambitions and careers. So they start their own businesses, bringing with them a very high skill level,” Heron says.


It seems micro organisations consider themselves in good hands, with the survey revealing women’s managerial skills are more highly rated than those of their male counterparts.


Participants in the survey were asked to rate their manager’s strengths across 16 performance indicators including leadership, decision-making and customer focus.


Female managers scored higher ratings than men for 15 out of 16 measures, with problem-solving the only category in which men and women were ranked equally.


The largest performance gaps were in communications skills, with women scoring 52% and men 36%, and emotional intelligence, with men and women scoring 38% and 22% respectively.


In the key area of managing people and performance, women’s led over men was 39% to 29%, and female managers were also perceived to be more supportive than men.


Heron says the results show women are more attuned to their workplace culture than men, which can make or break an organisation’s success.


With regard to recruitment, Heron says the survey shows many women are ambitious by nature, making them valuable assets to small businesses.


Heron says young women in particular are a standout category, with 91% of women aged 21 to 25 having high career aspirations.


“That means innovative, pacesetter organisations have a great opportunity to attract and retain female talent if they can get the necessary policies in place to establish career pathways and get the workplace culture right,” she says.


“If you’re not thinking about getting the right skills into your senior management team, regardless of gender, you’re not doing a good job as an organisation.”


“If you have women in your organisation with strong skills, what type of fool are you to keep them down?”


Not surprisingly, the survey shows flexible working arrangements is the most important factor to retain women in the workforce, followed by workplace culture and childcare support.


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