4 in 5 managers have witnessed gender discrimination or bias in the past year
And new CMI research reveals how senior male leaders have a responsibility to support the career development of womenMatt Scott
A CMI survey has found that inappropriate remarks, gender bias in recruitment and promotion decisions, and gender inequality in pay and rewards are still major barriers to gender equality in many organisations.
The survey of 851 UK managers found that four in five managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination or bias at work in the past 12 months.
Asked what behaviours they had personally witnessed in the previous years, 50% of managers pointed to gender bias in recruitment/promotion decisions; 42% said they had seen inequality in pay and rewards.
More than two-thirds of managers (69%) said they saw women struggling to make their views heard in meetings, and four in five (81%) said they had witnessed inappropriate remarks (such as comments with sexualised overtones masquerading as ‘banter’).
The research finds that men are less likely than women to witness gender discriminatory behaviour, however, progress is being made and there is a wider will for change. The majority of people are acting to promote gender balance:
Minister for Women, Equalities and Early Years, Caroline Dinenage said: “Gender discrimination is completely unacceptable – women should never be held back just because of their gender. Shining a light on this issue is absolutely key to achieving equality in the workplace, which is why we are introducing requirements on all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data from April.
"But equality is everyone’s business – and it benefits both men and women alike. Men have an important role to play in championing gender equality and this initiative will encourage even more men to actively drive this issue so that all employees can reach their full potential."
The survey shows male managers strongly support gender parity, with 84% in favour of a gender balanced workplace. The survey also reveals that three-quarters believe men in senior leadership roles have a particular responsibility to support the career development of talented women.
CMI CEO Ann Francke said: “It’s amazing that four in five managers have witnessed some form of gender biased-behaviour at work in the past year. Achieving a better gender balance is essential to boosting the UK’s productivity, which lags far behind our G7 competitors. If we’re to meet this ambitious target, then managers at all levels must call out behaviour that discriminates against women and encourage equality within their workplace.
“Of course, there are many things that managers, and particularly men in senior roles, can do. There are the big things like championing better flexible working arrangements and sponsoring and mentoring women. But there are the everyday things, like giving everyone an equal chance to be heard in meetings, and to cut out the ‘locker room’ banter that is holding us all back.”
Blueprint for Balance
CMI Women has created ‘Blueprint for Balance’, an innovative open source tool that will help organisations achieve 50/50 gender parity in management positions. According to research conducted for the launch of Blueprint for Balance, the top five interventions that managers believe would lead to a gender balanced workforce are:
Flexible working – having a better work/life balance
Balanced recruitment – seeing different sorts of role models for leadership
Promoting leadership equality - recognising that work can have an emotional impact on employees
Mentoring and sponsorship – more opportunities for women
Skills and career development - everyone having appropriate opportunities to contribute and be heard in meetings
Heather Melville, Chair of CMI Women and Director for Strategic Partnerships at RBS, said: “We need men at every level of management to champion and support women rise up through the ranks and get their fair shot at reaching the top. Our Blueprint for Balance sets out the many ways that men can promote gender equality, strengthen their organisations and help us reach our target of 1.5m more women in management by 2024.”
The CMI research has been released to coincide with the second phase of CMI Women, ‘Men as Role Models’. Senior executives from leading UK businesses are lending their support to the initiative, encouraging men in management to be role models in the workplace and becoming everyday champions of women at work. They include:
- Chris Stylianou, Chief Operating Office (UK and Ireland) of Sky
- Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON Climate & Renewables
- Martin Steadman, CEO of Nutmeg
‘Blueprint for Balance’ is a free online resource that allows employers to share information and learn from others the practices and policies that have helped improve gender balance in their organisations:
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