Executive coaching company, Talking Talent (www.talking-talent.com), believes that companies are losing senior women from their workforce unnecessarily because they are failing to support them around critical transition points in their careers. These points include: maternity, managing their career to the next level, making decisions on the right career choices, helping women with school aged children gain a work life balance and developing their leadership skills.

Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has indicated that nearly three quarters of women believe there are barriers preventing them from progressing to the top levels of management. Alongside well known obstacles to advancement, such as maternity and childcare-related issues…the research also revealed that women managers are impeded in their careers by lower ambitions and expectations.

Jo Lyon, co-founder and director of Talking Talent, comments: “Companies need to look at the reasons why they have fewer women operating at a senior level, and consider what improvements could be made to retain them. Making the boardroom more appealing and accessible is a good place to start.

“However, if organisations offered women coaching around these ‘career crunch’ points, retention rates would improve and there may not be a need to place such a focus on increasing boardroom quotas – as per the recent Lord Davies’ report.”

On 3 April 2011, Additional Paternity Leave comes into force; giving fathers a right to up to six months extra leave which can be taken once the mother has returned to work. Commenting on the legislation, Lyon adds:

“From a corporate point of view, this new legislation will help create a more diverse workforce, and it will support organisations in maintaining career momentum for women. And, for those families where the woman is the main bread winner, or whose career takes precedence, it will provide them with greater choice and flexibility.

“The extended paternity legislation is a step forward, but companies still need to take stock and plan ahead to support women through key transition points and look at ways to encourage women to return to work after the birth of a child (whether their first, second or third).

“The time has come for a cultural shift, and drastic action needs to be taken to see more women being retained during critical transition points in their careers, but also to encourage a higher number to board