It’s been almost four months since companies with 250+ employees reported their gender pay gap to the Government Equalities Office. Of those companies who reported in time for the deadline, 78% reported to pay men more and the UK announced a national average medium pay gap of 18.4% - higher than the OECD average.
With next year’s reporting only eight months away(!), forward thinking employers are already taking the opportunity to evaluate their results and take action to address their imbalance – before it’s too late.
Here are our top five ways to improve gender equality in your workplace, break down the barriers and drive women’s career progression.
Our Modern Families Index told us that post-baby careers can be pretty disappointing for mothers and fathers, with missed promotions and stalled careers just a few of the side-effects. Worse still, parents are trying to juggle work and family life, leaving many feeling burned out.
The result: potential women leaders are heading for the door.
More important than maternity leave is what happens when mothers and fathers get back to work. The secret to retaining working parents, and particularly our future women leaders, is post-leave policies - from childcare and back-up care to flexible working. Enabling women to balance responsibilities at home and at work through practical solutions gives our female leaders the confidence to grow and thrive in the workplace.
Although the focus remains on getting more women into leadership, gender equality isn’t going to change until men are involved as well.
The key ingredient? Paternity and shared parental leave.
Parental leave for fathers allows them to take a leading role in caring for children, rather than pigeonholing mothers into part time work and taking responsibility for the children and leaving fathers to work full time. It also sends a clear message that mothers and fathers are viewed equally when taking time off.
Preconceptions about certain industries, such as engineering and technology, can discourage women from applying leaving candidate shortlists dominated by men.
Gender diverse organisations bring a variety of ideas, experiences and knowledge from a broad range of people, with benefits for our organisations. Unbiased training for those involved in the recruitment process can help to improve the number of women applying and being interviewed for positions.
Peer to peer support can be invaluable in helping employees develop the skills and confidence they need to support their careers. A female network, sponsored by senior female leaders, can be a simple and easy method, with meetings and events focussed on helping colleagues build a strong support network around them.
Preparing aspiring women for leadership roles takes more than just a high level demonstration. It requires support through the chain, including conversations about career aspirations, support for mothers before, during and after leave, and ongoing personal and professional development. It also requires careful thought about the kind of benefits that can provide this support, such as flexi time, professional courses, maternity and executive coaching, and how they’re delivered.
Narrowing the gender pay gap isn’t a quick fix or a tick box exercise. There’s no one size fits all approach but these five ideas should help you to create a more gender diverse workforce.
Download our eBook: The Loss of Women Leaders: How to Keep Working Mothers from Walking out of the Door.