John Lewis’s woman boss: It’s hard to find men to work for me
A TOP high street female boss has said it is difficult to find men who will work for her.
Dame Sharon White admitted that she has found it ‘quite hard to recruit men’ at the John Lewis Partnership as she faces a backlash for hiring and promoting women at the business.
‘One of my issues around gender in the workplace is how do we make sure we can have a decent balance.’
The 55-year-old added that she had received complaints in the past for trying to ‘rebalance’ the company away from its masculine ‘command and control’ culture.
Speaking at an International Women’s Day event at King’s College London, she said: ‘I definitely had emails saying, oh my goodness, there are too many women.’
In particular, she received complaints after her decision to appoint Rita Clifton as deputy chairman in 2020. More than 60 per cent of leadership positions at the John Lewis Partnership are filled by women, compared with 40 per cent of director posts across FTSE 350 companies.
Dame Sharon said the Waitrose leadership in particular had been ‘all male and all white’. She also said she was concerned about the growing backlash against feminism among young men and blamed a failure to have ‘healthy’ conversations about gender equality with boys and teenagers.
Baroness Morrissey, former chairman of stockbroker AJ Bell, said ‘any move away from a macho culture needs to be very subtle’ to not dissuade men from joining a firm.
‘Otherwise men might surmise quite sensibly that the environment won’t be good for their careers,’ she said.
She added: ‘Obviously this isn’t where things should be but shows when we are trying to change business culture, we need to move carefully to avoid creating the impression that only one “type” of person will now succeed at the firm.’
Great strides have been made to make boards diverse but there is a long way to go, said Laura Whitcombe, of the 30% Club, a group aiming to boost gender diversity.