6 Things YOU can do to Improve Gender Diversity

02 December 2016 -


UK businesses still lag behind the times on gender equality in the workplace, but what exactly can managers do to stop inequality? Insights proposes six tasks you can use to solve the gender pay gap and talent pipeline

Jermaine Haughton

Lower pay, fewer promotions, less representation on company boards, inflexible work-life requirements and even sexual harassment are among the challenges faced by women in the workplace up and down the country, and around world.

Louisa Franklin described her experience of working in a challenging male-dominated office in the heart of the City of London as a “constant feeling of anxiety and frustration”.

After five years as a civil servant, Franklin changed career moving into a middle management human resources role at a leading financial firm. Two years later, however, she quit her stint in the City blaming the stress and pressure of working in a male-dominated office, as well as difficulty earning recognition for her work.

“I had heard the City was a tough environment, especially for women, but I was stunned by how easily we were shunned,” she said. “In meetings, myself and my female colleagues found ourselves constantly talked over and ignored, and it was abundantly clear that to progress at that company, you had to be loud and macho.”

As shown by the CMI and XpertHR’s Mind the Gender Gap report, Franklin’s experience isn’t an isolated issue.

The research showed a significant gender imbalance within many UK businesses, as men are more likely than women to have been promoted into senior and higher paying management roles in the past year, and earn 23% more than women, on average.

While women dominated junior positions (27% men vs. 73% women), males often controlled the higher ranks of organisations, with 68% of directors being men compared to 32% of women.

The analysis of the 2016 National Management Salary Survey of 60,000 UK managers also found that the average woman working full time earns £29,852, £8,964 less than their male peers.

Further study by Glassdoor Economic Research revealed Britain has one of the worst records on gender equality at work. Ranking Britain 11th out of 18 countries. behind the US, France, Spain and Sweden, the league table took into account pay, board level representation and the gap between male and female employment, among other factors.

CMI CEO Ann Francke said: “Promoting men ahead of women is keeping us all back. Diversity delivers better financial results, better culture and better decision making. Employers need to get on board with reporting on their recruitment and promotion policies and how much they pay their men and women.”

While progress is gradual, BT, Google and Tesco are among many blue chip companies, as well as small- and medium-sized firms, publicly voicing their intention and policies to help tackle gender equality.

Outside of the world of statistics, however, is an arguably more subtle and difficult challenge: one based on engrained beliefs, learned behaviours and social biases, which, as we all know, are hard to recognise and even harder to change with facts and figures alone.

Therefore, it is often unclear to managers and staff what active part they can play each day to create a fairer, more meritocratic working environment.

Here are six ways managers can adapt to defeat gender discrimination in their place of work:

1.  Gender Equality Training for Staff

Whether it is conducted by your Human Resources department or externally, holding small classes and workshops on how employees can discrimination can be a vital method of educating managers and staff of the unconscious biases which can occur in the workplace.

2. Publicise Your Best Staff

From employee of the month awards to cash prizes - great managers showcase the achievements of their most successful male and female staff, providing inspiration to their colleagues to excel at their own goals. Also having a management team which has a strong female representation is one of the best ways of showing fellow women that your company promote equality.

3. Offer Child Care Facilities

Provide employees with quality, on-site child care facilities for both mothers and fathers that work at your company. Work with your human resources department and management personnel to make sure that family leave is available to both men and women.

4. Expand Job Criteria When Recruiting

Rigidity in the job requirements for management positions can substantially limit the diversity of applicants. Increasingly, employers are becoming more aware of the barriers that prevents women from filling roles. For example, assessing whether asking for 15 years of management experience is actually necessary, when 10 years may be enough and will allow for the career breaks often taken after giving birth.

5. Reward Different Leadership Styles

Everyone is different, and typically most managers lead their teams in different ways, even if they do similar duties and produce identical results. Some people promote themselves and their individual work and others are more democratic, consensus-building , act as advocates for their teams.

By welcoming and appreciating different styles of management, rather than rewarding just one, employers can open the door to fresh input and energy to their teams.

6. Assign Work Fairly

It can be very easy to allocate particular duties to certain members of your team, whether it’s because they have more experience or you interact better with them, but great managers try to ensure that work is being distributed fairly and equitably.

Continually assessing that equal opportunities are being given to each individual to participate on projects, and even take their turn on leading tasks, can help their personal development as well as give less-talkative staff a chance to showcase their abilities.

Find out more about how you can boost gender diversity at CMI Women

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