As a woman who has spent nearly her entire career in the field of Business Continuity – and now as a Business Continuity Consultant – I’ve always been interested in how few women have risen to executive positions in business continuity and related fields.
A couple of studies around Women in Business Continuity Management (BCM) came out in the fall of 2017. One was published by Gartner in partnership with the Association of Continuity Planners (ACP) while the other was published by Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) . The biggest difference between the two studies was the number of participants. There were two key findings from both studies – and both findings are not unique to BCM.
Men hold most BCM executive roles
The first key finding from the studies showed that BCM executive roles are mostly held by men.
For those of us within the profession of BCM this does not come as a shock. I’ve worked for four different companies over my tenure and the most senior BCM person was a male in three of those companies. Even though females aren’t in executive or senior role within BCM, I do feel that there is a good representation of females within BCM profession.
I feel that one main reason there are less women in senior roles is that the BCM profession grew out of the Disaster Recovery career field. Many of the men in senior BCM roles today were in the data center back in the 1980s and 1990s doing disaster recovery for companies. If you take that background into consideration, then the results aren’t surprising.
It’s worth noting that the whole technology field lacks female senior leaders. I think the biggest issue is the fact that 51% of females in technology job leave their training, as reported by the National Center of Women in Information Technology (NCWIT). Progress has been made, but more is needed.
Conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace
Both studies also showed that the majority of respondents felt that women experience both conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace. This is also not surprising. We have heard numerous reports of women being paid less per hour than their male coworkers. The NCWIT report spends a great deal of time talking about how to address conscious and unconscious bias. This bias is something that corporations must continue to work on. As the NCWIT report states, it is about fixing the environment and not the people.
In conclusion, the lack of women in senior business continuity roles is not unique to the business continuity profession. A recent study from ISACA states that lack of females in senior roles contributes to lack of females applying for technology roles – perpetuating the issue Also, the bias that women face in the workplace is not unique to the profession. As stated by MCWIT and ISACA reports, companies need to provide fair compensation and growth opportunities for their female employees.