‘Women make better bosses because they understand family pressures’

Research suggests women CEOs are more trusted but men can close the gap as they adopt a better work life balance


Trust in bosses is falling according to a new survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Their research found that overall trust in managers and CEOs has dipped nearly 10% since 2011.

However female bosses are more trusted than men. It’s been suggested that this is connected to male workers, particularly millennials, expecting a better work life balance something women have more experience of achieving.

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management said, “Whether explained by social conditioning or higher levels of oxytocin, women are more likely to offer empathetic responses to problems than their male counterparts. An ability, or willingness, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is likely to promote trust in any relationship. A manager who is able to convey that she genuinely understands the pressures a colleague is under, especially when it comes to combining caring responsibilities with work, is likely to be more trusted because she ‘gets it’. The more male managers campaign for, and take advantage of, family friendly policies, the less the relationship will be about male or female and more about a genuine recognition and appreciation of such pressures.”


The survey measured ‘seven dimensions of trust’ – ability, understanding, fairness, accessibility, openness, integrity and consistency.

Over 800 employees at various different levels in their organisations were questioned for the work.

Despite the financial crash 12 years CEOs in financial services are the most trusted, while those in local and national government struggle to retain the confidence of their employees.

The Institute of Leadership and Management has been carrying out the annual survey for 10 years but interest in trust within organisations is attracting increasing attention.

Kate Cooper explained why it matters, “For any organisation to be successful, trust is not ‘a nice to have’, but is intrinsic to the culture of the organisation.  The more someone trusts a colleague, manager or team member, the greater the likelihood that they will collaborate, share information and work effectively together.  Trust helps organisations to run smoothly, increases engagement, improves processes, drives individual and team performance, ultimately benefitting the customer or service user.  The more CEOs are trusted, the more likely employees are to believe in their ability to navigate the organisation through difficult times of economic uncertainty, such as those we are experiencing with Brexit.”

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