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How to address gender imbalance in the workplace

In June this year Grazia magazine launched a campaign to close the gender pay gap. Entitled 'Mind the gender pay gap' it is calling for Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 to be enacted. If it is, then businesses with 250 employees or more would have to publish details about the hourly pay of men and women they employ.

The full time gender pay gap stands at 10%, and the average part-time pay gap is 34.5%. Gender imbalance is not just about pay however.  

Consider the following statistics*:

  • Women make up only 17% board directors of FTSE 100 companies.
  • A study by the Fawcett Society found that 51% of women and men from middle management to director level identify stereotyping as the major hurdle facing women at work.
  • Up to 30,000 women are sacked each year simply for being pregnant and each year an estimated 440,000 women lose out on pay or promotion as a result of pregnancy.

It appears there is much to address when it comes to gender imbalance in the workplace. Where to begin?

  1. Know the score. Get familiar with statistics on gender imbalance and identify any incidences of this occurring at an organisational level.
  2. Be transparent. Keep employees informed about your organisation's plans to tackle gender imbalance.
  3. Invite conversations – around sex discrimination, how performance is measured, pay gaps etc. It may feel like opening a can of worms; it's also vital in order that people feel heard and acknowledged.
  4. Come together. Look for examples of best practice in other organisations. Open up discussions within your peer group. Brainstorming ideas with others can both reduce overwhelm and spark creativity. It also reduces the weight of responsibility.
  5. Be realistic. You can't close the UK gender pay gap with a six month plan for example, yet you can demonstrate how your organisation is leading the way.

Gender imbalance in the workplace is a real and challenging issue. It has evolved through decades (centuries, even) of bad practice and hence can't be tackled overnight. When you consider however that many women effectively work for free from November 4th till the end of year, it most certainly has earned its place as a priority issue.

If you would like support in tackling gender imbalance in your organisation contact Tania now on or on 07802 218 982 for an informal conversation.

*Source: UK Feminista

Posted on Thu, October 02, 2014 in Organisational Development
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