Gender balance is one of those business goals that seem to have no immediate pressing need. We all know it’s a good thing to do and the research is compelling yet, it's still not on most executives list of priorities. It's time to change this.
Words: Griselda Togobo; Picture: Canva
Why is this?
As one executive told me – “I’m looking for the best people to work with, their gender is irrelevant that is why I’m not concerned even if only one member of my team is female.
There are other pressing matters to worry about like making revenue and earnings targets. It’s all about the bottom line and I don’t see how spending money or time on improving the gender mix in my team is going to help me improve my bottom line.”
If you are like this executive and not convinced about the urgency of diversity initiatives then here are 3 good reasons to start working towards gender equality in your business today.
That fateful day on 23 June 2016 when we voted to leave the EU resulted in a cocktail of uncertainty and anxiety, creating an unprecedented business climate. The government is now preparing to leave the EU in the best possible way for the UK’s national interest and each day you turn on the news, there is a new story about what is going wrong, might go wrong or will go wrong.
The vote to leave also had an emotional undercurrent which has resulted in most immigrant workers feeling unwelcome and more likely to leave. This has resulted in decreased supply of previously cheap EU nationals and a resulting increase in wages due to this shortage of supply. The wage cost of imported talent is going to keep rising as skilled workers will demand a premium to come to the UK.
- Gender pay reporting
Regulations came in force in April 2017 requiring companies that employ of 250+ employees to publish statutory pay data on staff. The Government wants to highlight companies that do not address pay differences between men and women. Both companies AND voluntary organisations from this April will be required to publish data on the pay gap between their male and female employees.
The gaps are not the result of unequal pay. It’s illegal to pay different people the different amounts for the same work, however, the gap reveals the failure of companies to attract, develop and promote female staff into leadership and senior management positions where roles are significant better remunerated.
From a recruitment point of view, women may use this information to inform which employers they do decide to work for. This transparency will also reveal the pay gap with other diversity and minority groups. Are you ready for your pay data to be published or are you bracing yourself for a backlash?
- The Gig Economy
Fueled by technology, more and more people are turning to freelancing driven by the need for control, flexibility and choice, better work-life balance and an opportunity for them to maximise their earning. It’s a global movement with data from the IPSE showing that between 2008 and 2016 the number of freelancers in the UK increased by 43%, contributing £119 to the UK economy. Of the 2 million freelancers in the UK. 1.77 million work freelance in main jobs. A further 234,000 work freelance in second jobs.
Crucially, the gender gap is much narrower here with 41% of freelancers being female compared to 59% Male. 1 in 7 of all freelancers are working mums (302,000). Between 2008 and 2016 the number of mothers working as freelancers increased by 79%.
The Taylor review has taken account of this new world of work and made recommendations but there are no immediate or easy solutions to the challenges facing employers and the government in how to best manage this surge in self-employment.
Estimates also predict that half of the United Kingdom’s working population will be self-employed in the next five years.
So what’s next?
These 3 trends are going to have a negative impact on the supply of experienced and skilled workers. Employers are going to be competing for an ever reducing pool of workers. You might think you will not be affected by this but we all will be. There will be more competition for skilled UK workers. That skills gap which was previously filled by the EU and staff international markets will now widen as the UK workforce is also an ageing one.
Women offer a solution to this problem.
Here are some benefits you’ll achieve from prioritising gender diversity as a business critical issue
- Prevent reputation damage through negative publicity.
- Build brand awareness and visibility as an employer where women want to work and thrive
- Reduced staff turnover and attrition resulting in continuity and increased productivity and growth
- Reduced recruitment, legal and related cost due to less turnover and potential cost of equal pay claims from current and former employees going back over many years
- Stronger more innovative and diverse workforce that represents the communities and clients that you serve – make progress towards achieving diversity targets due to increased
- Better customer relations: existing and prospective customers feel better about organisations that value diversity.
When it comes to closing the gap, it’s about progress, not perfection. What’s your action plan? What steps are you taking to close this gap? What is the gap in your company?
Take action today and get in touch we have the resources and expertise on hand to help you close the gap. Just click here.
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