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How your business can support gender diversity

Wednesday 7th August 2019

When it comes to treating your workforce fairly, one of the key priorities for many modern businesses is gender diversity.

In the wake of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements, this issue has never been more significant. However, recent research has indicated that most businesses have a long way to go before achieving true equality between male and female workers.

‘Work harder and deliver more’

Women in the workplace are more likely to feel under pressure to “work harder and deliver more”, but less likely to be rewarded and recognised for their efforts compared to male colleagues.

That’s one of the key findings of a survey by human capital consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Penna, which found that six out of ten women said they always work hard, compared to 45 per cent of men.

Nearly three out of ten women (28 per cent) said they always seek to deliver over and above to give a good impression at work, while less than a fifth (19 per cent) of men said the same.

What’s more, almost one in six women (15 per cent) have attended a course or studied for a qualification to boost their professional credentials, compared to only nine per cent of their male counterparts, according to the research.

Despite all this hard work, women hold only 29 per cent of board positions in FTSE 100 companies.

Three-quarters (76 per cent) of organisations that see advancing women as a critical business issue said they feel unsatisfied with their ability to demonstrate actions, practices and attributes that support gender diversity and female leadership.

A survey commissioned by Headspace Group (sister company of &Offices) provided similar findings, revealing that nearly half (48 per cent) of women have changed the way they look or act to get ahead in the workplace.

One in four (26 per cent) of the 2,000 female office workers surveyed said they have assumed the traits of male colleagues to be taken seriously, up from 19 per cent in 2017.

Nazia Siddiq, HR director of BE Offices, parent company of Headspace Group and &Offices, said:

“Employers have a responsibility to treat all employees equally and it’s clear that many organisations have a long way to go in this respect.

“It’s just not right that in this day and age so many women are still facing sexism and gender discrimination in the workplace and these results point to some, arguably simple, steps that both employers and the government could take to provide better support.”

Positive Actions

The research highlighted the value of flexibility to improve gender equality and opportunities for women, with 45 per cent of respondents to the Headspace Group survey saying their job isn’t flexible enough to balance work with other commitments, such as childcare.

Other key actions that could help to drive progress include:

• Greater pay transparency (40 per cent)

• More women in senior positions (35 per cent)

• Better maternity leave provisions (28 per cent)

• Better paternity leave (26 per cent)

• More training for female members of staff (17 per cent)

Diversity is something all companies, big and small, should strive for but knowing how to successfully address and implement the correct strategies can be difficult. These tips can be a helping hand in your companies mission for a diverse and fairly treated work force.

Image courtesy of: Free-photos at Pixabay

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