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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Discrimination Lawyers Edgbaston

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance to help employers and employees deal with the expression of religion or belief at work and avoid conflict and costly court cases.

The guidance follows the European Court of Human Rights judgment in four cases about religious rights in the workplace, one of which found that an employee suffered a breach of her right to religious freedom for being told not to wear a cross at work.

However, the fact that this judgment could be overturned on appeal and that it could take time for domestic courts to re-interpret existing domestic law, has the potential to cause confusion for employers on how to deal with employees who wish to express their beliefs at work.

The Commission has therefore produced guidance that employers can use to manage and protect religion and belief rights in the workplace.

It includes good practice advice for employers such as how to tell if a religion or belief is genuine, the kinds of religion and belief requests employers will need to consider and how to deal with them.

More women on Europe's boards

Posted by on in Sex Discrimination

New research has found that greater numbers of women are joining the boards of Europe’s largest companies than ever before, and women now account for a third of all new board appointments in 2012.

The analysis, by Egon Zehnder International, the global executive search firm, has revealed an accelerating trend in the participation of women. The share of all board seats held by women has risen by 28% in the past two years to 15.6% (from 12.2% in 2010). This is equivalent to almost half of the total progress from the baseline set in Egon Zehnder’s first analysis in 2004, when only 8.0% of board seats were held by women.

The rapid increase in numbers of European companies with at least one woman on the board is equally impressive, rising to 86% by 2012: a 9% increase since 2010 (79%); and a 41% increase since 2004 when only 61% of all boards included a woman. If this trend continues at the current rate, women will be represented on the boards of all of Europe’s largest companies within the next two to four years and account for 25% of all board roles within the next five years.

However, there is concern that women are particularly under-represented in executive roles, which are often a stepping stone to non-executive board positions. Only one in twenty executive board positions (as opposed to one in six of all board positions) are today held by a woman – and there has been no progress since 2010.

Equally concerning is that despite women’s increasing representation on boards as a whole, the top board leadership roles remain out of reach. Just seven of 415 Chair roles across the companies surveyed were held by a woman, again with no progress since 2010. A key reason for the scarcity of women Chairs is that few women have sufficiently long and broad board experience. The analysis shows that women board members are on average almost five years younger than their male counterparts.

A recent survey by Ernst & Young has found that the glass ceiling is dead as a concept for today’s modern career. Two thirds of women polled believe they faced multiple barriers throughout their careers, rather than just a single ceiling on entry to the boardroom.

Based on the results, Ernst & Young has identified four key barriers to career progression for today's working women. These barriers are: age, lack of role models, motherhood, and qualifications and experience.

Liz Bingham, Ernst & Young's managing partner for people, said: "The focus around gender diversity has increasingly been on representation in the boardroom and this is still very important.

"But the notion that there is a single glass-ceiling for women, as a working concept for today's modern career, is dead. Professional working women have told us they face multiple barriers on their rise to the top. As a result, British business is losing its best and brightest female talent from the pipeline before they have even had a chance to smash the glass ceiling. We recognise that in our own business, and in others, and professional women clearly experience it – that's what they have told us."

The survey identified age – perceived as either too young or too old – as being the biggest obstacle that women face during their careers. Around 32% of women questioned said it had impacted on their career progression to date, with an additional 27% saying that they thought it would inhibit their progression in the future.

Most markedly it was women in the early stages of their career that seemed to be most acutely impacted – with half of all respondents between 18 and 23 saying age had been a barrier they'd already encountered in their career.

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