Rosaleen Blair of AMS

Women make more trusted bosses

MT's exclusive poll of 5,000 UK employees reveals that female CEOs are more trusted than their male peers.

by Emma De Vita
Last Updated: 07 Sep 2010
According to MT/ILM’s annual Index of Leadership Trust survey, overall trust in women CEOs remains higher than trust in male CEOs across both the public and private sectors. What’s more, the largest year-on-year increase in CEO trust was experienced between male employees and their female CEO – a jump of eight index points on last year.

Is this more evidence that women are having a good recession? It could well be. Male employees were particularly confident in their female boss’s ability to do their job well. They also considered them to be highly principled and honest; female CEOs score higher than male CEOs in these areas by two and three index points respectively.

But what impressed the male employees most was the women’s knowledge of what their employees have to contend with in their day-to-day lives. Female CEOs are seven points ahead of their male counterparts on this measure. During tough times, this is an especially important string to a CEO’s bow. When your employees are up against it, showing a real understanding and appreciation of the extra effort they are giving not only helps to boost morale but is also a big driver of trust.

This, combined with being seen to be principled and honest, goes a long way to persuading staff that their CEO can be trusted to be fair. As Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam GB, tells us: ‘People have to believe that what you’re doing is very fair - then they will trust and go along with an enormous amount of what you need to do.’ Which is exactly what’s needed as we negotiate ourselves out of the recession and into recovery (double-dip notwithstanding).

Not all women bosses want to be defined by their gender. ‘I’m lucky, because I’ve been able to create an environment that I want to work in and where I can be successful, as can other employees – regardless of whether they’re male or female’, says Rosaleen Blair, a former Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year and CEO of Alexander Mann Solutions, who was also interviewed for our feature.

One word of warning: some of our survey results indicate trouble ahead for the public sector. Out of all the sectors surveyed, it’s local and national government employees that have the lowest levels of trust in their chief execs. As Penny de Valk, CEO of the ILM puts it: ‘If they are going in with such a limited trust credit in the bank, you’ve got to ask: how are they going to avoid eroding it further?’

See MT’s feature and full interviews with Rosaleen Blair and Barbara Stocking here. You can also read the full research findings on the ILM's website.

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