Shaking up the status quo – 4 avenues to equality

Grovelands’ Director, David Leen, emphasises the importance of equality in the workplace and how to empower female workers in your organisation.

I was disappointed over the weekend after I took my twin girls swimming at our local school’s pool. A number of posters were on display to promote an upcoming Open Day but they had inadvertently reinforced gender stereotypes.

It was a school we were considering sending our girls to and it was one of the more progressive institutes in the area so I was a little concerned.

One poster bothered me in particular which showed a few suggested career paths for the pupils; Business Leader, Engineer and Politician were the options given above the boy in the poster whilst Humanitarian and Linguist were the options above the girl. There was a subtle difference in how they were positioned and the boy was definitely more prominent too. The school had aimed for an eclectic approach but had missed the boat in my option; it would have been brilliant if they’d swapped the career options around.

Equality within the workplace is extremely important to us at Grovelands and we actively promote fairness and tolerance throughout our business. Each member of the team is supported in a way that suits their needs and every employee has the opportunity to undertake further training if required. This is echoed in the way we recruit candidates for our clients.

In the past I’ve written a number of articles about inequality in the workplace and the newspapers are rife about the lack of female CEOs in the FTSE 250, so it was disappointing and particularly sad to see lazy stereotypes at such an early stage of life.

I wanted to develop the points I’d made in my articles about our work with the Women In Business initiative and another about Sky’s reluctance to put female anchors on their sports shows.

Recently Deloitte stated that pay equality won’t be achieved until 2069: a prospect that is not very exciting. High growth sectors, such as technology, still struggle to attract the best talent and particularly the best female talent. I read that pay inequality in Technology stands at 17%. Grim. Whilst it is a global issue to attract women into areas such as Tech, the UK is far from a beacon of light. Much more needs to be done.

I wrote a blog a while back about women on TV sports shows. I mentioned that I thought the BBC led the way, Sky were poor and BT were somewhere in the middle. I watched a new show on Sky with three (male) pundits, an anchor and a female host. After 30 minutes I realised that the woman was literally there to introduce segments, highlight advert breaks and welcome us back. Nothing more. When she was involved in a debate, it quickly moved back to the male anchor.  C’mon Sky you can do so much better.

I think the BBC has done some great work assigning female presenters, Clare Balding is probably the most prominent sports anchor followed by Gabby Logan, Eleanor Oldroyd and Hazel Irvine.

So what can businesses, organisations and others do to remove the barriers to entry, not to mention the financial gains that firms can make by having a more balanced workforce?

Here are my suggestions:

Develop or hire role models: Females working in an environment with a lack of senior managers will need a lot of imagination to see themselves in a senior role. Either develop or hire role models within your organisations so the women in your company can see where and how they can progress. My fellow director Ashleigh Belgrave quite rightly brought me up on this one.

Look at your role guides and your job adverts: If the wording of your job posts promotes certain genders to respond, then review and apply more neutral wording. We started to do this earlier this year at Grovelands and whilst it is too soon to see a change in our hiring, we can see the responses are more mixed. This can only be good.

Expand your networks: Broaden your talent pool by joining networks such as Women in STEM, TechUK and the IET’s Women’s Network to learn more about the issues women face in the workplace. Our CEO Ben Wilson was recently invited to an event as a keynote speaker on this very topic.

Hire interns: For graduate employers, internships are an effective way of recruiting women into less obvious careers. The AGR annual survey showed that 75% of employers hired interns and about half of these secured a permanent role.

Another thing to consider is to promote more women within your firm as this creates more female role models. Take a few risks! Train and provide investment in women to give them the tools to do the jobs they wouldn’t normally look at. The Women in Finance Charter is a step in the right direction with 72 signatories including the big 5 UK banks.

Above all DON’T accept the status quo.

If you wish to share your thoughts and opinions about this blog call us directly on 01273 651 500 or email contactme@grovelands.co.uk. To keep up to date with our news and updates don’t forget to follow our social media channels.

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