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Tackling the Under-Representation of Women in Leadership Roles

Women are significantly under-represented as senior business leaders, globally.

Recent studies continue to highlight that as the seniority of a corporate position increases, the number of women represented decreases and, as of 2021, just 8% of FTSE 100 and large publicly listed companies within the EU have a woman as CEO. These statistics tell a story lived by countless women; disenfranchised and held back by a chronic lack of investment and support to overcome barriers still entrenched in industries to which they have so much to offer.

How can women develop in senior leadership roles?

Women deserve the chance to thrive at work and reach their potential, and we want to encourage this by enabling women to develop their leadership skills and achieve success in the positions in which they belong.

Our accredited Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, will enable you to develop your potential and consolidate your current experience, and is an ideal platform to help you make the step into a more senior leadership position. In recent years, we have seen an increase in women taking advantage of this opportunity, with female learners making up 45% of delegates in the two most recent cohorts of the programme.

As a first of its kind at the business school, we are currently working with EQUANS, a multi-national and multi-technical service provider, to develop the Women in Leadership Programme, an accredited Senior Leader Apprenticeship. This programme will bring together like-minded women from across the business in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Jessica Hanwell, Learning and Talent Advisor at EQUANS, says, “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Alliance Manchester Business School to deliver the Women in Leadership Programme. We see this as an exciting opportunity to inspire and enable our women to become the future leaders of our organisation”.

So, why study a Senior Leader Apprenticeship at Alliance Manchester Business School?

An unprecedented opportunity

A Senior Leader Apprenticeship would normally cost £14,000, however, this qualification is fully funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, so there’s never been a better time to invest in developing your leadership skills. The qualification is set against national standards and is delivered by The University of Manchester, a world class Russell Group university, with a strong history of delivering applied business management programmes.

Accidental leaders mean low productivity

There are too many ‘accidental leaders’ in the UK. These are people in leadership positions with no prior management training. In fact, 1 in 5 managers in the UK have no formal management training [4]. This results in low productivity, with the UK ranked at No. 4 of the G7 countries [5]. Our senior leader apprenticeship programme will ensure that managers acquire the full range of skills necessary for effective leadership.

Supports leaders in transition

If you’re a newly promoted leader or looking to take the next step on the career ladder, our Senior Leader Apprenticeship is the ideal programme to enable you to transition to a fully rounded manager and leader, knowledgeable about all aspects of your organisation, with insights and solutions to its challenges.

Inspiring others

In the workplace, it is beneficial to see colleagues at senior level undertaking development, as it means they are constantly challenging themselves, are open to new ideas and keep up to date. As a newly qualified leader, you’ll get the best out of people at levels 2-6 having acquired a greater understanding of how best to manage them and lead a team.


As part of the Apprenticeship Levy funding rules, individuals studying towards an apprenticeship must complete their training within their working hours, with a minimum of 6 hours per week of your contracted working hours "off the job learning”. As a busy manager or leader, you might think that you can’t spare 6 hours per week off your current workload to undertake the programme. Truth is, you can. Think about any tasks that you can delegate to members of your team, focusing your time and upskilling them as well.

Working on your organisation

As the programme is so relevant to your role, the assessments will deal with issues in your business and undertake projects that need your attention, so you will be working on your business as well as in it. The 6 hours inimum of work time spent ‘off the job’ will fit around your existing busy schedule, so it is complementary to work, not additional to work.

Your thinking is elevated

Being on a Senior Leader Aapprenticeship programme changes the way you think about your role and your organisation. Not only will you have the opportunity to share and learn from academics at the forefront of business education, but you’ll also engage with other like-minded learners from varied industries, sectors and backgrounds.

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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