Closing your diversity gap
Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of embedding diversity and inclusion at the centre of their business models.
Take Massive Interactive, an award-winning international tech business, who have recently released their guide to active inclusion. It clearly illustrates their strong commitment to diversity and why it matters to their business.
In a competitive market, diversity action plans matter. This was reinforced recently by Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) research that found two-thirds of women consider an organisation’s gender pay gap when applying for jobs.
Despite some positive signs, gender parity is over 200 years away. And, next month will mark another Equal Pay Day; when women in the UK effectively work for free for the rest of the year, because of the gender pay gap.
What about other diversity gaps? A Race Disparity Audit commissioned by the Government last year, emulating the gender pay gap audit, revealed significant disparities in the pay and promotion of different groups. A report by EHRC revealed that only 3% of organisations analyse their ethnicity or disability pay gaps. In a move to help create a fairer and more diverse workplace, Theresa May has announced plans that may force companies to publish their data on ethnicity pay gaps.
There are decades of research that back up the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The business imperative for action is clear. So why is progress slow?
A history of women in the workplace
A brief delve into the history of women in the workplace provides some insight into the slow progress on gender equality in the UK.
Protests at Ford’s Dagenham plant led to the Equality Pay Act of 1970. The first piece of maternity legislation was introduced five years later, but long qualifying periods excluded many women. In the same year, the Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate against women in employment, education and training.
Forty years later, the Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to harass or bully women in the workplace. But, the recent #MeToo movement clearly shows that we have more to do as a society and in the workplace to truly change behaviour.
The Gender Pay Gap legislation passed in 2017 feels like a step forward; providing greater transparency in the market and a platform to drive change.
Challenging the status quo
The first woman CEO of a FTSE 100 company was appointed in 1997. The women on boards review found that there were only 12.5% of women in FTSE 100 board roles by 2010. Some progress has been made with representation increasing to 28% in 2017.
But the number of women in senior leadership across the UK remains low, rising slightly from 18% in 2017 to 22% in 2018. The status quo remains largely unchanged.
Sources: The Female FTSE Board Report 2017 and Young Women's Trust
Inequality starts at the very first promotion. A study by McKinsey found that fewer women are hired at the entry level; despite women making up 57% of recent graduates.
Likewise, women generally experience a workplace skewed in favour of men. On average, women are promoted less than men. Entry-level women are 18% less likely to get promoted than their male peers
A recent poll found that 22% of employers in the UK admit that if a woman is pregnant or has children it impacts their decision to promote them. This affects the number of women in senior leadership roles down the line.
Companies that take a one size-fits-all approach to advancing women’s rights in the workplace will fail to support all women. This is because they fail to consider the obstacles BAME women face, shaped by the intersection of gender and race.
BAME women represent a smaller percentage across all levels in the corporate pipeline; receiving less support from managers and slower promotions. A 2015 YouGov survey reinforced consistent evidence that British Black African work were the ethnic group with the highest aspirations of wanting to progress their career. Yet, only 1 in 13 BAME workers are in management positions, with just 1 in 16 in a leadership position. There are no female ethnic minority CEOs or CFOs in the FTSE 100 and women still only hold 6% of the top 300 jobs.
Men and women see the success of gender equality efforts differently. A study show that 80% of UK women thought gender discrimination occurred in the workplace and one third considered it to be inherent. Research by Investors in People found that 30% of men say that claims of gender discrimination are overestimated compared to 15% of women.
Fully inclusive workplaces make a difference
Businesses need a far-reaching action plan for supporting and advancing everyone in the workplace. To create a truly inclusive environment where everybody can bring their whole selves to work, the status quo must be challenged.
It’s critical for companies to be aware of their current strengths and challenges to tackle inequality head-on. This means acknowledging the distinct barriers individuals face in the workplace. You need support from all staff, men and women, across all levels for diversity action plans to truly make a difference.
Core actions should include:
- Making a compelling business and social case for diversity equality and inclusion
- Embedding inclusive recruitment and selection practices
- Investing more in employee training
- Promoting flexible working times
- Focusing on accountability and results
Understanding your organisation’s diversity profile will provide you with insights into the systemic or cultural barriers that hinder the attraction, recruitment and progression of diverse talent. This data is critical for the design of strategy, training and action planning on equality, diversity and inclusion.
EW Group’s diversity diagnostic for Invensys, a FTSE 250 engineering multinational, helped the company articulate their business case for diversity. Invensys’ primary business drive was recruiting and retaining the best engineering talent globally. We worked with their senior leaders to identify ways in which this business driver could be translated into actionable, measurable ways of leveraging diversity across the whole business.
Get in touch to learn how EW Group can help you reap the business benefits of a more inclusive workplace.