This March, events are hosted all over the country to celebrate Women's Empowerment Month.
Women have the ability to transform our economies, societies and businesses. Yet they are paid less, are less likely to have a leadership position, and are chronically under-represented in critical areas like technology and engineering.
Employer responsibilities in gender equality
Employers in both the private and public sector have a role in ensuring equal, fair and inclusive working environments that allow women to develop and progress. Involving men is a vital part of this. We need to recognise and move beyond negative social norms. We need to rebalance the power structures that fuel inequality.
access to quality work, fair pay and opportunities for training;
greater flexibility in working, like shorter hours or telecommuting. All UK employees have the legal right to ask for flexible working arrangements after six months of employment. This was taken up by two-thirds (63%) of working women, compared to 44% of working men.
active mentoring, in and out of work. Powerful female role models help and support women in the workforce to navigate barriers and challenges.
child care, parental leave and pension schemes. The majority of mothers’ work and 2014 figures suggested almost as many women with children (74.1%) participated in the labour force as women with no children (75%).
Ways to empower women in the workplace
Have a zero-tolerance policy for bias. Full stop. This can mean everything from removing bias in the recruitment process to stopping workplace “jokes” which don’t encourage an inclusive environment. Everyone has a role.
Hire women in upper management. The figures above show that, across the world, leadership is still not a shared responsibility. Hire women. Promote women. Make the most of women’s proven track record in delivering productive and successful businesses.
Provide public speaking opportunities. This is a matter of confidence, visibility and sharing insight. The more women have the chance to share their stories, and act as a role model, the more others will see what’s possible.
Provide education and training. We know from the research that women struggle with balancing responsibilities and often work part-time. That doesn’t mean they should not be at the front of the queue for education and training opportunities. Find talent. Nurture talent. Let that talent shine.
Equal pay. This is key. Better pay opens us the realm of possibilities. And it’s an important signal you can send to your workforce, and your customers, that fairness and equality are at the heart of all you do.