Female Leadership in the Age of AI: United Kingdom

Apr 30, 2024

Dr. Nicola Hodson, Chief Executive, IBM UK & Ireland introduces the UK findings of an IBM study on female leadership in the age of AI

Advances in Artificial Intelligence have brought a wave of excitement and new ideas, propelling us into a new era: the Age of AI. Whilst the term ‘generative AI’ was new to many of us just a year ago, we are already seeing its benefits in everyday areas of our lives, such as how we can more smoothly interact online with our banking providers. From boosting business and public sector productivity to accelerating scientific discoveries and transforming customer experiences, it is undeniable that AI - when used responsibly - has the potential to deliver real value.

Many business leaders in the UK have been quick to seize these opportunities. The latest IBM Global AI Adoption Index revealed that 37% of large UK enterprises have already deployed AI and a further 41% are exploring AI applications.

Amidst the rush to embrace the exciting possibilities of this technology, business leaders must consider human needs, and design a trustworthy, human-centric AI system – with governance at its core – that is aligned with the values and principles of the society or community it serves. This is of critical importance as leaders have considerable influence over how this technology is developed and used – both in their own organisations and those of their customers. In addition, ensuring that diverse teams develop and deploy AI makes the output of those systems more likely to represent all parts of society and limit bias.

This IBM research reveals important insights into the gap between intention and action in diversity when it comes to female representation. We found that 69% of UK business leaders believe it is important that female leaders are involved in decision-making on AI to avoid male bias in outcomes. Yet, only 37% of respondents said that advancing more women into leadership roles is a top priority within their organisations. This is the lowest figure among all markets surveyed in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and notably lower than the EMEA region average of 51%.  

Ensuring female leaders have a seat at the table in the age of AI is not about ticking a diversity box, it is a strategic imperative. Clearly, UK business leaders recognise the importance of this. But progress is still needed to equip women with the skills and confidence to position themselves at the forefront of this revolution - steering it towards a future that is inclusive, ethical, and enabling for all.

At IBM, we are excited to embark on this journey with our clients so that everyone in our society can access the full potential benefits of AI.

I hope this report sparks important conversations and collective action that will move us towards this vision, feeling empowered and optimistic about what we can achieve together.

Download the UK Female Leadership in the Age of AI Report here


Media contact:
Gregor Hastings

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