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Mercer: Empowering Women to Progess up the Ladder

Category: Employer Focus, Gender Equality, Employee, investment, success, organisation, retirement, priority

Siobhan Martin from Mercer talks about what makes her organinsation a fantastic place to be; and in recognition of International Woman's Day, why gender equality is such a priority for them.

Why is Mercer such a good organisation to work for?

Mercer is a global leader in talent, health, retirement and investments, and I'm very proud to be a part of such a successful organisation. We help clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset - their people, and have 20,000 employees in over 40 countries.

How do you help the women in your organisation achieve their goals?

We focus on three aspects to help women to reach their potential whilst managing the responsibilities they have outside their work:

Flexible working - we have a strong focus on making flexible working a realistic option for our highly varied workforce. We promote information on how to make it work, sharing stories for both women and men who are very productive and effective in their jobs. We also ensure that our managers are well educated in the benefits of flexible working as supervisory relationships are where the enterprise succeeds or fails.

Inclusive recruitment - our inclusive recruitment strategy is very effective and we have won an award for our relationship with our diversity recruitment partner. Without their help, we'd tend to look in the same places we've looked in the past, and potentially miss out on lots of great people. We want to uncover people not in the obvious workforce - maybe people who have been on a career break, after having children or those who are looking for part-time work.

Unconscious bias - we're doing a lot of work in this area, trying to understand how we make decisions and whether we are making them effectively. We look at who gets what opportunities, and why, within the business - helping us all to learn our own biases. Luckily for us Mercer has a consulting practice in D&I so we've got great help at hand to practice what we preach.

In addition to these three areas, we also enjoy great partnerships with people like the 30% Cub, International Women of Excellence and the European Professional Women's Network. We also work with gender balance networks. All these relationships help us with data, information, feedback and connections, and we help them wherever we can. What goes around definitely comes back around.

What further progress needs to be made in the UK for Gender Equality?

Last year, during an official visit to the UK, her excellency Quentin Bryce, Australia's female Governor-General asked to meet Australian business women working in the UK to discuss their experiences. Some horrifying stories emerged that showed that we still have a long way to go. There were a lot of old fashioned views present across a wide range of industries and it showed that, as far as we may have come, casual everyday sexism is still sadly a reality.

I've worked around the world, and in my experience, the countries that acknowledge that they still have a way to go are usually the ones that move further forward more quickly. From my general observations, in the UK we still need to accept that we have issues we need to address. While there's a strong focus on the number of women on boards, we need to look at the women in the middle, and how we can grow these women to become the leaders of tomorrow removing barriers as they go.

I also think we also need to look even further back, at how we engender the right attitudes and beliefs in girls at our schools - so they can grow in confidence and prepare for the world beyond school whatever direction their lives may take them.

Any statistics you'd like to share about your workforce?

Our UK board has a 50/50 gender split, and our CEO is female. And we're very proud of our record in approving 100% of applications for flexible working - proof that advice on preparing suitable business cases works.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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