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Gender Diversity in the Workplace

international womens Day

International Women’s Day celebrates the success and achievement of women in the workplace, and while the latest findings on gender diversity are indeed encouraging, there is still some way to go.

Recent research suggests that those companies who employ more women in management roles enjoy higher profits and greater sales growth. Yet a separate study shows that two out of three board positions in Britain’s biggest businesses are still held by men.

We look at why gender diversity is such a good thing for your workplace and what can be done to encourage more women into top jobs.

Companies With Women Decision Makers Outperform Those That Don’t

It’s good to see that more women executives are breaking through the glass ceiling, and that gender diversity is having such a positive impact on business’s bottom line.

A recent report by Credit Suisse revealed that companies employing a higher number of female decision makers continue to outperform those that don’t. Its findings show that businesses with women in senior positions are generating higher profits and better returns, and they refute the idea that women executives are “Queen Bees”. Far from “pulling up the ladder behind them”, so that other women can’t follow them into the boardroom, successful female executives are more likely to promote other women into management roles.

Third of FTSE 100 Board Members Are Now Women

According to the 2019 Hampton Alexander review, a third of all seats on boards in Britain’s biggest companies, are now held by women.

This annual government-backed study seeks to promote gender diversity in UK business by encouraging FTSE 350 companies to strive for greater female representation.

And progress is being made. The 2019 review showed  that 32.4% of all FTSE 100 board level positions are now occupied by women, rising  from 30.2% in 2018 and up from just 12.5% in 2011. But, while the review’s 33% target for Women on Boards by 2020 has been achieved, the study also found that there is still some way to go.

Women on Boards UK chief executive Fiona Hathorn has described progress outside the FTSE 350 as “glacial”, calling for more to be done to improve women’s representation in senior management generally and not just at board level.

Recruiting Women to Senior Roles

So, given that there is an appetite for change, what’s preventing women from reaching the top? 

According to recent academic research, there is still a lack of appropriate career development opportunities for women within some businesses. A male dominated culture, and stereotyping of women’s roles were also found to be the main barriers to career progression. In some organisations, taking a break to have children can also damage a woman’s chances of advancement at work.

How to Improve Gender Diversity in Your Workplace

There is a lot that  businesses can do to promote gender equality within the workplace and bring a better balance to their boardrooms.

Often the answer lies in addressing an organisation’s culture and ensuring that all staff are fully aware of how employing a good mix of people, at all levels, can benefit the business.

Other measures include making gender diversity a key company policy, and eradicating the gender pay gap by paying men and women equally for doing equivalent jobs across your company.

Many talented women are keen to resume their jobs after taking time out to have children, but fear they may have missed out on chances for promotion. Employers can help by creating a culture in which female staff are not only encouraged to return to work but have opportunities to rebuild their careers.

Not many employers provide childcare facilities on site, but they can be flexible, so that where possible, working mums can organise their day around nursery and school times.

Across the board workplace training on gender diversity is also well worth considering. At HR:4UK we have wide experience in this area, so talk to us today 01455 444 222 or [email protected]

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.