A woman's touch at the helm is key to survival for UK's biggest corporations, O2 study finds

LONDON, Leaders across the public and private sectors increasingly believe female character traits are essential to corporate success, according to a powerful new report released by O2 today.

The findings predict that businesses with a female touch will survive and thrive in an economic era that relies heavily on collaboration, communication and teamwork ‘ all attributes associated more with female captains of industry.

The report, authored by The Future Laboratory, and based on expert interviews, cutting-edge case studies, and quantitative research from 500 senior executives, reveals that the recent economic recession forced a turning point in the way public and private enterprises operate that will profoundly alter organisational strategy over the next decade.

 

In addition, it forecasts that ethical and customer focused credentials will increasingly outweigh environmental image and the ability to harness emerging technologies will be key in deciding which organisations survive and thrive in the future.

According to the report’s authors, in contrast to the profit-centred business models of old, changes are being driven by a major shift towards ensuring long-term security and sustainable growth over short term financial gain.

Key findings include:

The impact of the recession:

The research shows that British organisations have learnt from the hard lessons of the economic recession:

  • Nearly three quarters of organisations (74 per cent) now prioritise future growth plans over short-term considerations (57 per cent)
  • A similar number (75 per cent) feel the recession has forced them to develop a clearer picture of their own business strategy
  • Nearly nine in ten senior executives (87 per cent) say the recession has forced them to redesign their operational methods and practices in order to plan for future changes

The report reveals four big changes in the way that organisations will operate post-recession:

 

Feminine touch for success

  • Over two thirds of British organisations (62 per cent) believe that having women in senior positions is critical to their ongoing success
  • Today’s economy relies heavily on collaboration, communication and teamwork which are all viewed as female traits
  • Nearly eight in ten senior executives (78 per cent) view the rise of a female workforce as a major opportunity for organisations in Britain now

Ethical rather than environmentally friendly

  • Organisations must act within their communities and behave in a community-minded way
  • Ethical practices is ranked far more highly by executives than being environmentally friendly ‘ at 6th versus 15th

Technology-driven transparency

  • Digital connectivity has brought transparency to the fore, and over the coming decade greater openness and awareness via communications technologies will allow organisations to become adaptive, insightful and flexible to tackle changes
  • The advance of sophisticated office technologies (71 per cent) mobile phone technologies (65 per cent), and social networking (59 per cent) are seen as major opportunity areas for organisations

 

In touch with the public

  • Being closer to the public isn’t about selling more product, but harnessing knowledge to develop new ways of thinking
  • Four in ten organisations (40 per cent) say they would actually turn to the public first for advice and support when faced with change in the future, compared to banks (25%) and lawyers (12%)

Ben Dowd, O2 Business Sales Director, said: ‘Our priority is to understand and respond to the challenges facing our customers. This report reveals a new emerging breed of British organisation, which has a radically different way of operating.

‘A third of our board are women and this has no doubt played a significant role in how we have weathered the recession. It’s really exciting to see the ways in which large organisations are harnessing changes in technology, workforce dynamics and social trends to not only survive but thrive in the future.’

Tom Savigar, Strategy and Insight Director at The Future Laboratory, said: ‘This report shows that big organisations are increasingly vulnerable to sudden change but many are starting to reflect and realign themselves for this new decade ‘ a decade that is set to be turbulent, challenging and rewarding for some.  The context will spur the rise of Nimble Giants; large organisations that are harnessing change in order to thrive in the 2010s.’

ENDS

For further information on the report and interviews, please contact Katie Gosden or Laura Hegarty at Blue Rubicon on 020 7060 2700 or O2@bluerubicon.com