March the 8th is International Women’s Day and one of the key themes remains that of gender equality both across the board, but also more specifically in the workplace. We took the opportunity to speak to members of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) committee to understand a little more about gender equality issues including women’s equality in the workplace.
There are still equality issues that impact women, and the reality is that they are probably more pronounced than as a society we might realise or acknowledge. For example, a 2022 report by Scottish Widows revealed that in the UK, women aged between 66 and 74 have typically got pension savings around half the value of male counterparts. The report suggested that as a result of part-time working, lower pay and time needed for family commitments, a typical woman would need to work an extra 37 years to have a pension pot comparable to that of a male counterpart.
The pensions issue is not unrelated to the gender pay gap, which according to the WEF Global Gender Gap report 2022 suggests that whilst the gap has closed by 68%, they are still forecasting it will take 132 years to reach full parity. Whilst women are still unable to earn like-for-like with male counterparts, this only exacerbates differentials in pension and lifetime earnings aside from factors like childcare or associated career breaks.
However, attitudes are changing, and women who have made it into leadership roles are beginning to expect more of employers and are leaving roles in record numbers when they do not meet their expectations. According to Lean In’s Co-Founder, Rachel Thomas and co-author of Lean In and McKinsey & Co.’s Women in the Workplace report calling this mass exodus The Great Breakup who is quoted as saying “Women are not breaking up with work, they’re breaking up with their companies if they’re not delivering the work experience, and some of the cultural elements of work that are critically important to them.” Some of the issues that the report cites are microaggressions in the workplace, over work paired with under-recognition, lack of flexibility and poor focus on well-being and what is being expected of managers including training and reward.
Key findings within the report were that 48% of female leaders who had switched job in the last 2 years had done so to seek out opportunity to advance and female leaders were 1.5 times more likely to cite unmanageable workload as a reason for leaving a job.
But women’s equality in the workplace is not a new concept, and it is one that has had growing attention and acceptance over recent years, so why is change so slow? One reason may be implicit bias. As humans we all use prior learnings and assumptions to simplify the world around us, and on the whole, it can be a very successful strategy, it means I can recognise a cup or a mug immediately even when they differ in size, colour, shape, material or wider context. But it also means I am susceptible to bias and stereotyping and I might not even be aware that I am doing it! These implicit biases are present in all of us, and stats show that biases that hinder women in other ethnic minorities exist even in women and the ethnic minorities themselves.
Awareness is part of the battle and resources such as the ’50 ways to fight bias’ resources from Lean in, including their fantastic but sobering video overview of bias in the workplace. For those of us who are brave enough, exploring our own potential biases can be helpful, even if it is also a little shocking, Project Implicit by Harvard University allows people to do just that in their online tests. But the key to fighting bias is not only to be aware of it in ourselves and others, but to stop and think, slow down, and speak out when we see bias in action. That way, we can all help to counteract the way that negative bias impacts all of our colleagues, friends and family, and reach equality for all more quickly.
Imran Ahmed, TrakCel’s Head of Product and member of the DE&I committee says: “Focusing on CGT we are lucky to be in an industry which has benefited exponentially from the contribution of women to accelerate the drive to curing some of the worlds worst illnesses. From Dr Jennifer Doudna (one of the pioneers of CRISPR-Cas9) to Reshma Kewalramani (CEO of Vertex) the benefits of women and diversity in the workplace are invaluable.”
TrakCel are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and are privileged to benefit from talent drawn from a diverse team. We are committed to supporting all of our team members equally as we rely on the range of ideas, experiences and approaches that they bring to the business to deliver truly innovative solutions to clients.
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Article by Helen Hopkins - 8 Mar 2023