International Women’s Day takes place on Friday 8th March and it’s always great to hear about all the achievements and great strides being made by women around the world every day.
However, it’s also important to recognise that there is still progress to be made when it comes to women in the workplace and being treated as equals to their male counterparts.
Women have come a long way in the working world. Just 40 years ago it was, in the eyes of the law, perfectly acceptable to pay a woman less than a man even if they were doing the exact same job and hours AND up until nine years ago, the Equality Act didn’t even exist.
Though there were individual discrimination laws in place such as Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equal Pay Act 1970, there was nothing that truly protected the rights of women at work.
There have clearly been vast improvements made to ensure that women have the same pay, opportunities and treatment as men in the workplace; however, there is still have some way to go – as these interesting statistics show:
- Women represent 46.5% of the UK’s workforce (statistic from 2017)
- Female employment rates have risen over the last 40 years; whereas male employment rates have declined. However, the female employment rate is still less than male employment rate by 10%
- The gender pay gap in the UK widens for workers aged 40 and upwards
- The percentage of women in CEO positions across all industries is less than 15%
- The country with the biggest boardroom disparity is Hungary with 96% men and 4% women, and the country with smallest is Norway with 60% men and 40% women
- The UK falls somewhere in the middle with 74% of CEO’s and Managing Directors being men and 26% women
- The industry with the biggest gender pay gap is finance and insurance closely followed by electricity and gas
- The average weekly earnings for full-time female workers in 2017 was £494, compared to £592 for men
- The gender pay gap in the UK is worse than the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which contains 36 countries) average
- Female employees are more likely than men to be working in jobs paying National Minimum Wage
- Only 18% of Britain’s SMEs are majority women-led
Though these figures present a bleak picture and highlight the inequality and under-representation of women that still exists in the workplace, there are things you can do as an employer and business owner to shift things into a more positive direction.
Create an equal opportunity policy
This will help ensure that men and women have access to the same opportunities and positions. It will also show your employees that you are making a conscious effort to embrace equality and diversity within the workplace.
Encourage your female workers to apply for more senior roles that become available
Often there is an assumption that a senior role or promotion has certain demands that may put women off applying for the role. For example, it is far more common for women to require flexible or part-time work for a good work-life balance, so you should try to create more opportunities within this realm.
Monitor and evaluate salaries and promotions on a regular basis
Sometimes you may not even realise that there is a disparity between male and female workers’ salaries and promotions which is why it’s important to regularly check these things and highlight any areas that concern you. You can’t make the appropriate changes until you identify the problems.
Gender pay gap reporting is now a legal requirement for employers with 250 employers or more but smaller organisations can do this too as an internal measure to benchmark where they are at.
Ensure that your recruitment process is unbiased
Avoid an imbalance in the number of male or female employees (especially in senior roles) being hired at your workplace by making sure that the recruitment process is unbiased. You can do this carefully checking that your job descriptions do not contain gender-specific language, by having several standard, set questions that you ask in every interview, and by using a diverse interview panel.
If you require further support when it comes to equality in the workplace, recruitment, or HR policies then call us today on 0845 2626 260