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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Sex Discrimination

Pay gaps, the wrong role models, a weak talent pipeline and lack of self-confidence are amongst the biggest challenges holding back female managers, according to Women in Leadership, the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) first ever White Paper on gender issues.

The paper builds on the results of the National Management Salary Survey, published annually by CMI and XpertHR, which in 2012 showed a lifetime pay gap of over £420,000 between female and male executives.

The White Paper presents a range of practical recommendations, including:

For employers and line managers

  • Measure and report on the proportion of women in your workforce, including at senior levels. Where there is little progress, act on it.
  • Create supportive networks andencourage mentoring opportunitiesfor female managers.
  • Prepare future leaders with the skills they need to do a good job at the top including training, experience and qualifications.
  • Enable women to be wives, mothers and carers by embracing flexible working at all levels.

For Government

  • Require companies who have transgressed to publish aggregated pay data at all levels within the business.
  • Focus on the talent pipeline, not just the boardroom: ensuregreater transparency from employers about the level of female representation at different management levels.
  • Inspire younger women’s career aspirations by integrating management and leadership development into the education and skills system at every level, as recommended by the Heseltine review.

In the 18 months since Lord Davies published his review into women on boards there has been encouraging progress, according to a report by Cranfield School of Management. 

The number of women recruited to the boardrooms of the UK’s largest companies has increased and there has been a notable commitment by business to remove the obstacles preventing women making it to the boardroom.

The report shows that women now account for 17.4% of FTSE 100 and 12.0% of FTSE 250 board positions. Ninety-two FTSE 100 companies and 170 FTSE 250 companies now have at least one woman on their board.

In the six months since the last progress report, the percentage of new appointments going to women in both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies has risen, with 44.1% for FTSE 100 and 36.4% for FTSE 250.

New research from BT and the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei), showed that despite fathers having a greater role in raising their children, many employers fall short of offering them the support they need.

The findings reveal that while one in two fathers (49%) say they do the majority or an equal share of the childcare, two thirds (67%) don’t think their employers have sufficient family friendly policies.

While more than half of dads (52%) say they do manage to prioritise their family life more than a third (35%) now work more than ever, which means they often aren’t able to be as involved in family life as they would like to be. The study also revealed that nearly nine out of ten fathers (87%) want their employer to do more to help them with their parenting responsibilities:

  • 49% want to be able to work flexibly,
  • 21% want to be able to take paternity leave,
  • 25% want their employer to be more understanding of the demands of fatherhood, and
  • 38% would like support with child care


Denise Keating, CEO of enei, said: “With traditional family roles having changed significantly in recent decades, a healthy workplace culture treats men and women equally. True gender equality will only happen when it is not only socially and culturally acceptable, but actually expected that fathers will play an equal part in the care and upbringing of their children.  If employers do not move with the times and proactively enable this, there is a risk of disengagement, loss of performance, or even worse, a perception of discrimination against the male workforce.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report revealing that the appointment of women to FTSE 350-listed non-executive director roles is being held back by selection processes which ultimately favour candidates with similar characteristics to existing male-dominated board members.

The report reveals a recognition by many chairmen and executive search firms (ESFs) that gender diversity should be increased at board level. Search firms have introduced a voluntary code of conduct and had some success at getting more women on long lists. But when it comes to shortlisting and appointing, the candidates who are selected tend to be those who are perceived as “fitting in" with the values, norms and behaviours of existing board members, who are largely men.

Interviews with senior consultants at ten leading ESFs in London, all signatories to the voluntary search code, reveal that search firms are beginning to challenge chairmen and nomination committees when defining briefs. In particular, this includes giving more importance to underlying competencies than “fit” with existing board members.

The research shows how selection of candidates based on “fit” and previous board experience rather than competencies is self-perpetuating as it works against women who have had fewer opportunities to gain previous board level experience. It also limits the ability of chairmen to broaden the range of skills and experience of their boards.

As well as identifying examples of good practice at ESFs, the report concludes that a more transparent, professional and rigorous approach to the selection process would allow chairmen and search agencies to appoint more female candidate and encourage more women to consider applying for roles as non-execs.

An independent Task Force has been set up to help retain top talent within the communications industry and narrow the ever increasing gender diversity gap among senior women returning from maternity leave.

This is in direct response to a national survey conducted by Hanson Search and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which revealed a record 13.4% of senior employees think employers are out of touch with working mums. These employees plan to quit the industry in the next two years if employers continue to deny flexible provisions for those wishing to return from maternity leave, and maintain negative attitudes.

The survey, which interviewed 550 women and men working within communications, revealed:

  • 9.4% of employers felt they had serious reservations about hiring women aged between 30-40 years old fearing they would, at some point, fall pregnant,
  • 62% of employees feel that they will be discriminated against if they were to become pregnant, and
  • 49.3% of respondents have observed issues or problems among colleagues directly related to their return from maternity leave, such as difficulty with flexible working hours (64.6%), reduction in perceived status (59.9%) and negotiating part-time employment (53.2%).

Around 80% of interviewees believe that flexible working is beneficial to both the employer and employee in terms of time management and time efficiency, with 83.8% suggesting it would be good practice for organisations to implement such strategies.

The European Commission's latest annual report on gender equality has found that improving equality between women and men is essential to the EU's response to the current economic crisis.

"The economic case for getting more women into the workforce and more women into top jobs in the EU is overwhelming," said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "We can only reach our economic and employment goals by making full use of all our human resources – both in the labour market as a whole and at the top. This is an essential part of our economic recovery plans."

In the labour market, the employment rate for women is 62.1%, compared to 75.1% for men, meaning the EU can only reach the overall Europe 2020 target rate of 75% employment with a strong commitment to gender equality.

Under the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission has highlighted the need to promote a better work-life balance, in particular through adequate childcare, more access to flexible working arrangements, and by making sure tax and benefit systems do not penalise second earners. These can all help to make sure more women enter and remain in the labour market.

The gender pay gap has narrowed slightly across the EU. On average, women earn 16.4% less than men for every hour worked. The gender pay gap is caused by multiple factors such as labour market segregation and differences in educational choices. Slow progress in narrowing the gender gap in company boardrooms led the Commission to launch a public consultation on possible measures at EU level to address the problem, which risks holding back innovation and growth in Europe.

A recent report from work-life charity Working Families has revealed that many parents are facing impossible choices and discrimination at work.

The report, which was based on calls to the charity's free legal advice line, found that employers are less willing to consider a variety of working patterns, and are imposing changes which undermine parents’ ability to combine work and childcare.

The report also revealed that 8% of calls in 2011 concerned pregnancy and maternity discrimination, including callers dismissed when they told their employer they were pregnant, demoted on their return to work, and unfairly selected for redundancy.

Other callers reported that they could not afford to return to work after childbirth, because of high childcare and travel costs, while parents of disabled children could not find any affordable, appropriate childcare.

A recent Eurobarometer poll has found that 47% of those interviewed believe that the gender pay gap is best tackled at EU level. However, respondents were almost evenly divided on how best to close the gap.

While the pay gap between women and men doing the same job with the same qualifications is seen as a serious problem by almost seven in ten Europeans (69%), respondents were divided on whether incentives or penalties would be more effective in reducing the gap.

The three possible remedies offered, namely "facilitating access for women and men to any type of employment" (27%), "imposing financial penalties on companies that do not respect gender equality" (26%), or "transparent pay scales in companies" (24%), all scored similar percentages.

When asked at what government level these measures are best taken, 47% of those interviewed said they favoured action at EU level, 38% at national level and 11% at local level.

Unsurprisingly, women saw gender inequalities, and the pay gap in particular, as more of a problem than men did. More than three in four women said that the gender pay gap is a serious problem (76%), compared to 62% of men. More men (35%), than women (21%), said that it was not a serious problem.

When asked about pay trends, 60% of respondents said they thought gender inequalities had decreased over the past ten years, whereas 12% thought that there had been no change.

A recent study by the International Labour Office (ILO) has found that the current financial crisis has led to a significant increase in workplace inequality across Europe. 

The study, 'Work Inequalities in the Crisis: Evidence from Europe' analyses how workplace issues, such as working conditions, wages and incomes, employment and gender equality have been deteriorating across the continent since the start of the crisis.

“The central message of this volume can be summarized in simple terms: not only did work inequalities contribute to generating the economic crisis, but these inequalities have even become worse as a result of it”, says Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead, the ILO’s Special adviser, and editor of the book.“Our general economic system will thus continue to be at risk until we properly address this critical issue.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • Wage differentials between the top and the bottom earners increased in countries like Bulgaria, Hungary and the United Kingdom.
  • Young people are experiencing unemployment rates nearly double those among older workers in the majority of European countries.
  • Despite male workers being initially more affected by the crisis than women, discriminatory practices against female workers have worsened over the past years.
  • Women employed in male-dominated sectors were the first to be dismissed or experienced higher wage cuts than men.

A recent report has revealed the extent to which women are under-represented in senior executive and management positions across Europe.

According to the data published by Mercer, the ratio of senior executives and managers that were female averages 29% in countries across Europe compared to 71% of men. Mercer has also revealed that despite organisations’ efforts to achieve a diverse workforce, the majority (71%) do not have a clearly defined strategy or philosophy for the development of women into leadership roles.
 
Sophie Black, Principal in Mercer’s Executive Remuneration team, said “Women’s representation on company boards is a big issue and there is substantial noise in the EU about board diversity. It’s not just an issue of gender, of course, although discrimination in any form is undesirable. It’s also an issue of talent as it this sort of bias in a company limits the candidate pool and skill set. A more diverse workforce reduces turnover and absenteeism and increase innovation and creativity,”

The EU is committed to addressing gender inequality and the Gender Pay Gap as part of its EU Gender Action Plan. While there is opposition to the imposition of politics into the workplace, Mercer’s data underscores the role that political intervention can play in balancing the inequalities created by market forces. According to the data, former Soviet-bloc countries have the highest levels of female participation and equality in Europe. In fact, the nine countries showing the best representation of women in senior positions are ex-communist states.
 
In Western Europe, the countries with the greatest proportion of women in the executive suite amongst the sample group were Greece and Ireland (33%), followed by Sweden (30%) and Belgium (29%). Spain, UK and France all had 28% female representation.

Quota systems to increase women’s representation in business have been in existence for several years in countries like Spain, Norway, France, Belgium and Italy. In the UK, the government is taking steps to improve women’s representation in the boardroom following Lord Davis report Women on Boards which recommends increasing the proportion of women executives on boards of the FTSE 350 group of companies to 25% by 2012.
 

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