Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fully immersed in the Women’s World Cup tournament and seeing the difference they are making in promoting Women’s football and the exposure they hadn’t received in previous years. I’ve been reading varying opinions and comments on subjects regarding Women’s football around gender pay gaps, training opportunities and medical support. This got me thinking about all women, in all areas of business.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of gender equality and diversity in the workplace. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done, especially when it comes to women’s representation and advancement in the business world.
In the UK, as in many other countries, the focus has shifted towards fostering a business culture that genuinely reflects the opportunities available for female employees. This blog post explores the current state of the UK workplace for women and delves into whether company cultures are truly embracing these opportunities.
The Current Landscape:
The UK has witnessed a steady rise in the number of women participating in the workforce, including senior leadership roles. However, there remains a significant gender disparity, especially at the higher echelons of businesses. A study by the Hampton-Alexander Review revealed that while progress was made in increasing the number of women on FTSE 100 boards, there were still only a limited number of women in executive and CEO positions.
The Role of Company Culture:
Company culture plays a pivotal role in determining the opportunities available for female employees. A culture that values diversity, equality, and inclusion not only attracts diverse talent but also nurtures their growth and advancement within the organisation. However, despite intentions, some companies still struggle to translate these values into practical and impactful changes, which is why a clear plan is needed for organisations serious about making their workplace more inclusive for women, to lay out practical activity to support and develop, with accountability and ownership; it’s not simply enough to speak about being supportive of women in the workplace, action is needed.
Here are some of the key areas of focus that your organisation should consider when determining a plan to improve it’s culture of supporting women in the workplace:
1. Equal Opportunities and Recruitment:
A progressive business culture starts with ensuring equal opportunities in the recruitment process. Companies should aim to eliminate biases from job descriptions, interview processes, and candidate assessments. A diverse panel of interviewers can contribute to fairer evaluations and decisions regarding hiring.
Ensure your leaders are trained in carrying out fair recruitment processes, and that they truly understand the company’s desire to focus on building a diverse workforce., and the pivotal part they play in that journey.
2. Flexible Work Arrangements:
Many women still carry a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities. A business culture that truly embraces flexible work arrangements, including remote work and flexible hours, can greatly benefit female employees by helping them balance work and family commitments.
Since the pandemic, many organisations now take a more flexible approach to work, however very few have managed to get this to work seamlessly; organisations must continue to iterate and evolve their remote and flexible working practices to achieve a way of working that is practical for both the business and its employees. Remember, an organisation who demonstrates it’s commitment to flexibility for employees will establish fantastic engagement and loyalty from it’s people and so cannot be underestimated as a tool for retaining good people.
3. Mentorship and Sponsorship:
Establishing mentorship and sponsorship programs within a company can significantly contribute to women’s career development. Senior leaders and managers can provide guidance, advice, and advocacy to help talented women climb the corporate ladder.
4. Leadership Development and Training:
Providing leadership development and training opportunities tailored to the needs of women can help bridge the gender gap in leadership roles. These programmes can equip women with the skills and confidence needed to succeed in higher positions, whilst also providing an opportunity for them to meet colleagues who are dealing with similar challenges, allowing an opportunity to problem share and build invaluable relationships with peers.
5. Transparent Promotion Criteria:
Companies should ensure transparency in promotion criteria and processes. This helps mitigate bias and ensures promotions are based on merit rather than subjective opinions.
By being open in this way, not only are colleagues able to better understand what they need to do in the future to achieve a promotion, but it helps to foster better working relationships between colleagues, as promotions will be regarded as fair, with little opportunity for favouritism.
Creating a business culture that truly reflects the opportunities available for female employees is an ongoing process. While the UK has taken steps to address gender inequality in the workplace, there is still a way to go. By embracing diversity, equality, and inclusion in company cultures, businesses can tap into the full potential of their workforce and contribute to a more equal and prosperous society.
Equality isn’t simply about ticking boxes, there are clear benefits to businesses who harness the power of equality. For example, having a workforce who truly represents its customer base gives an organisation the ability to take the views and opinions of people from all groups to develop its products and services, meaning they’re more likely to get it right for their customers. A group of white, middle aged men developing an organisation’s products and services, will not represent what is needed in its customer base!
As we move forward, it’s essential for businesses to continually assess and evolve their practices, policies, and attitudes to ensure that women in business have every chance to succeed and lead. By doing so, we can create a future where opportunities for female employees are not just reflected in business culture, but fully embraced and realised.
At The HR Consultants we can provide you with advice and guidance in reviewing your companies current culture and values and ensuring your policies and procedures truly reflect your organisation and what you want to represent, as well as working with you to develop an actionable people strategy if you really want to get your business moving.
In September, we are launching our Managers Training modules, Our 2-hour modular workshops, held virtually, on a monthly basis. This will bring your managers the opportunity to meet others with similar challenges and will be a good stepping stone to providing that all-important leadership development and training opportunities that your female employees may not have had in other organisations. Spaces are limited so get in touch to get booked in or for a no obligation chat with one of our superstar consultants.