Clinton's loss: Lessons on women and leadership


What an appalling article. To try and claim that the main reason for Clinton losing is due to the fact that she is a woman shows a complete ignorance to the party politics and the American ...

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Hillary Clinton's defeat is common in the workplace: women lose out simply because they are women

Hillary Clinton’s race for the presidency suffered because she is a woman. It’s not the only reason she lost, but it didn’t help. She kept her head down and campaigned tirelessly but few people rewarded her for focusing on issues, projecting instead on her personality.

This story is common throughout many organisations. According to our research men in management are 40% more likely to be promoted than their female counterparts, and only 8% of managers say their organisation has gender diversity targets. This is not just a reflection on men; it’s endemic in unhealthy leadership cultures both in the US and here in the UK. It wasn’t just men who voted for Trump, millions of women did too.

The US election shows that men and women find it hard to rid themselves of power and gender stereotypes, and the concern here for business is that the result will help perpetuate the gender pay gap. According to the Fawcett Society that gap stands at 13.5%, but as our research shows this rises to 23% for women in middle management and leadership roles.

Addressing issues like unconscious bias, and inspiring emerging leaders and nurturing female talent in the middle is critical to closing this gender pay gap. While women outnumber men at junior levels not enough make it through to the top.

There are more than half a million ‘missing’ women from management. This means if the current number of management jobs was shared equally by men and women there would be an additional 513,000 female managers.

Rather than risk being branded aggressive and pushy, most women simply put up and shut up and hope that they will somehow get promoted through their hard work and sheer competence. But they shouldn't hold their breath, because that rarely happens.

One excuse that regularly rears its head to explain unequal levels of pay is the ‘motherhood penalty’ - mums taking a break from the office and returning part time. That idea doesn’t wash when we see that unequal pay affects all women. A good example of this is the expectation that a woman aged 30 to 40 already has or will soon be having children, and therefore shouldn’t be put forward for a role involving extensive foreign travel.

Employers have a big role to play in changing workplace culture, but they need to recognise it as a problem. Men must be agents for change too and create the conditions for transforming businesses. This issue cannot be resolved by women alone.

In November 2016 we’re launching our CMI Women campaign with the aim of a 50/50 share of management roles between men and women by 2024. To do this we need 1.5 million new female managers over this period, compared with 430,000 new male managers.

It’s not just about diversity for diversity’s sake. Strong management and leadership is key to creating improved productivity, and if leaders want to help their organisations unlock value in the workforce they must turn to women to shoulder half of this responsibility. Recent research shows how much value employers are losing out on by not creating a gender balanced workforce, with a UBS report estimating that closing the gender pay gap would add $12 trillion to the global economy.

Let’s hope businesses can lead the way in addressing this imbalance and that when the next female candidate runs for president she won’t face the same barriers Hillary Clinton did.

Ann Francke is CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)


What an appalling article. To try and claim that the main reason for Clinton losing is due to the fact that she is a woman shows a complete ignorance to the party politics and the American voters. Lets just ignore the fact that she paraded herself around as an elite, using A list celebrities and fellow elites to try and appeal to the masses. Lets ignore the fact that she pretended to promote equality when she was firmly against gay marriage until a few years ago when popular opinion forced her to try and fit in. She promoted equality but was in bed with the Saudis and Arab Emirates who do everything in their power to oppress women. Delivering private speeches to Goldman Sachs, getting paid ridiculous sums and then refusing to acknowledge this. Then there's the fact that her campaign team were paying homeless people to infiltrate and incite riots at Trumps Rally's. Or how about the fact that the Clinton foundation was giving huge sums of money to the middle east when Wikileaks have proved that the government knows that our 'Allies' have very strong ties with terrorist groups, let alone the fact that she was part of an administration that sold more weapons to the middle east than ever before. Or shall we discuss the billions of dollars that got lost in a black hole in the Clinton foundation. But worst of all, and this is what really swayed the American vote, part of her campaign was that 'it is her time'. She has spent 16 years in White House operations so she felt that this automatically gave her the right. How insulting to the people. Trump is a mad man, but Clinton is a politician - lying and deceiving are part of her day job. Plus the fact that there was an alternative female Democratic representative, Clinton conspired to ruin her, just like they did with Bernie Sanders. Frankly this is an awful piece, there has been huge media bias that Clinton is a Saint and can do no wrong. Both candidates were awful but to pin this on the fact that Clinton is female is just insulting and shows complete short sightedness. Very disappointed that this has come from the CMI directly. Men have a huge role to play in creating equality, that doesn't mean it has to be the oppression of men, it should be the rising of females. Many women voted for Trump just like many men voted for Clinton. The difference is Clinton treated the election as if her winning was a given, it is this arrogance that lost her the vote. To try and force gender into this is just insulting.


Really sad to see an article like this, that boils down a very complex presidential election into the two camps of man vs woman. Either Ann fundamentally does not understand the reasons for Hillary's loss or has intentionally put a gendered slant on this - either way it's disappointing to see this published in HR Magazine. For the benefit of Ann, and anyone who thinks the presidential election was a gendered issue, you would do well to read more into the email scandal; how Clinton erroneously targeted the larger cities whilst neglecting more rural states; how the voters were voting against the establishment which nobody embodied more than Hillary. Finally, it would be worth asking the question 'Is America more sexist than it is racist' - if you arrive at the answer 'no' then the conclusion is that being a woman didn't hinder Clinton's campaign any more than being black hindered Obama's. Most disappointing of all is to see the myth of the 'pay gap' being perpetuated. Once hours worked, experience on the job, and job type are taken out of the equation the gap virtually vanishes. There exists an 'earnings gap' but that is not a pay gap. Again the question should be asked 'does business care more about keeping women down and underpaid more than it cares about cost efficiency. Yet again, if the conclusion you arrive at is 'no' then it simply does not make sense for companies to continue to employ men when they can save so much more money through underpaying women to do the same job.


There is no doubt that there is still a lot of work to do before we achieve true gender equality in organisations. The problem with this article, though, is that some of the important points that Ann Francke wishes to make and presumably enlist support for, are completely undermined by her ridiculous claim regarding Hillary Clinton's defeat.


I am speechless after reading this article. I am an HR manager and I know how discrimination looks like and how is perceived by the others. I don't understand how this article can be written by a woman. I agree that there still are some preconceptions about women but I don't believe that she lost because of her gender. I know men that work in HR and are selecting women in leadership positions. There is no bias from the educated people. I think that education cures a lot of today's society


Well the aforesaid comments from male pontificators just prove the case for this article. What unnecessary diatribe about Clinton when her name is only used in the piece as an example of discrimination against women. To prove her gender did have an influence, I noted an example where during a BBC vox pop interview regarding the outcome of the American election, one older woman from the South said that “a woman should not be president” and this woman explained she believed this because she is ‘Christian’. There are very much double standards regarding how strong women and men are seen – this crops up in language and attitudes all the time. Clinton was a politician. Yes, and a damn good one at that – even Trump admits that now. Her downfall was the misogyny that he and his ilk could draw out by some choice unfounded allegations and innuendo which have unfortunately now entered the lexicon around her name. If she had tried that same approach she would have been even more castigated than she now is.

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