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Equality in the Office: Closing the Gender Gap

It’s no secret that Britain has one of the worst records in the developed world regarding gender equality at work. In fact, in a study conducted in 2016, Britain came 11th out of 18 countries in a league table that took things like pay and the board level representation between male and female employment. And, the gender pay gap for full-time employees is currently 9.4%, which means that the average pay for full-time female employees is 9.4% lower than for full-time male employees. As you can see, we’re far from achieving gender equality in the workplace. But how can we close the gap?

Set goals

You’ll hear plenty of people telling you not to set goals in an effort to achieve equality in the workplace, and to simply ‘let the evening-out process happen over time’. But, the fact is your business will do better now if you start paying more attention to closing the gender gap. Unite your company around a common goal and ensure that you’re able to maintain the necessary momentum. And, ensure your goals are addressing equality in a way that’s actually effective too – for example, hiring more women into junior roles is a good goal to pursue, but hiring 25% more women into senior roles might have a more significant effect depending on the current structure of your company.

Ask employees to make referrals

Your employees are one of your best assets when it comes to achieving equality in the office. When it’s time to make hires, make it part of your strategy to ask your employees for recommendations based on suitability, experience, qualification and fit within the company culture. You can offer enhanced bonuses for employees who successfully refer female candidates, but bear in mind that some cases from the European Court of Justice has ruled that positive discrimination in favour of women can be in breach of the Equal Treatment Directive 76/207. So, it might be worth consulting with a solicitor before you go ahead with implementing schemes like this one to be clear of what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

Become a brand known for diversity

As well as putting in the legwork to find more women for your workplace, it pays to put in the effort to become a brand known for equality. So, make sure your website, social media and job adverts are targeted in a way that means you’re more likely to reach women. And, once you’ve reached them, don’t be patronising: there’s nothing more off-putting than trying to ‘feminise’ a job advert or a social media pos. Instead, be frank and make it clear that you believe a diverse workforce where women are represented at all levels of the business is better for business and for morale; you might just find that the best female candidates are pouring through the doors.

Make it possible for women to work in your office

Women disproportionately care for children and older relatives, which is thought to be one of the chief reasons there is such inequality in the workplace. With women tending to have little choice but to take time out of the workplace to care for family members of all ages, you might find you attract (and crucially, retain) more women to your company by offering roles that are genuinely flexible – with flexible hours, part time work or job share opportunities.

This can be facilitated by having the right hr system in place, such as reliable staff-management software so that HR departments have a constant overview of who’s working for the company, and in what way, at any time. It’s critical to encourage male members of your company to take shared parental leave when it comes to taking time off to care for children, which can mean liaising with their partners’ employers to make shared parental leave a reality. But, the extra effort will mean your workplace gets to benefit from the experience, knowledge and hard work of the women who want to work for you – so it’s well worth doing whatever you can to close the gender gap.

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