Gender diversity in the workplace is the equal treatment and acceptance of both males and females in an organisation. Employers that take steps to achieve an inclusive workplace for men and women are likely to have a more gender-diverse workforce. Gender diversity brings companies many business benefits due to the different viewpoints and backgrounds of diverse individuals. The main barriers to creating a workplace where women and men have equal opportunities are gender bias, the lack of opportunity to balance work with personal responsibilities, the gender pay gap and vertical and horizontal occupational segregation.
Here at Diversityjobs & The Big IDEA we recently conducted research to find out what companies are doing to acknowledge the gender gap and the actions they are taking to attract and retain talented women. Below are just some of the initiatives being taken by a range of Diversityjobs members.
Employee Networks – Numerous Diversityjobs members provide a support network for their talented female colleagues, addressing the perceived barriers to career progression. These various networks may range from Womens Networks, Gender Balance Networks and Working Families Networks. Morgan Stanley is a Diversityjob member that offers all three aforementioned support networks to their employees, ITV have recently launched their Women’s Network, while Atos and BT promote equality and gender diversity in their workforce through gender equality networks.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) inspiration programmes and diversity initiatives – There is a growing need to educate parents, careers advisers and teachers about the diverse roles existing in the STEM industry, so that young people and those looking for a career change are introduced to the career opportunities available. BAE Systems are involved in numerous STEM projects, such as engineering taster days and ‘Girls in Engineering’ events. High Speed Two (HS2) Limited is already taking measures to talk to children about the exciting opportunities in rail and infrastructure. Atkins is also working with schools, colleges and universities to deliver STEM initiatives in the UK and around the world.
Family-Friendly & Flexible Working – To successfully create a culture which appeals to women, flexibility in the workplace can and should be encouraged, in particular in terms of hours and home-working. Many roles can be carried out remotely and in a family friendly way. Companies are increasingly showing a clear and on-going commitment to a large range of flexible working options, offering great support for working parents, including generous maternity benefits. Morgan Stanley is a leading promoter for family-friendly workplaces and is firmly committed to supporting working parents through a variety of programs including the Return to Work program. The program, now in its fourth year, offers skilled professional women who have left the workforce a path to career re-entry through a 12-week internship. Capita go beyond maternity and paternity leave, offering family leave and shared parental leave along with flexible working after a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service.
External Partnerships – Many Diversityjobs employers have established partnerships with associations that support and enable them to better inspire, attract and support women in the workplace. WISE (Women in Science, Technology and Engineering) enables and motivates people in business, industry and education to increase the participation, contribution and success of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). WISE members inspire girls to choose maths, physics and computing and they attract, retain, develop and progress female talent in their companies. Their aim is gender equality in the UK’s scientific, technology and engineering workforce. Network Rail, Atkins and Sky are some of the Diversityjobs members in partnership with WISE. BAE Systems are one of many companies partnered with Opportunity Now, the campaign on gender diversity from Business in the Community that aims to increase women’s success at work by empowering employers to accelerate change for women in the workplace. Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance organisation and helps working parents, carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. Diversityjobs members such as Santander and Lloyd’s Banking Group have partnered with Working Families to support staff with families, and Barclays were named among the UK’s top 10 employers by the organisation.
Women in Leadership Programs – Since its launch in 2010, SAP’s Women in Leadership program has helped develop the careers of many female executives by pairing rising executives with experienced leaders. SAP were also awarded an EDGE certification, which recognises that the company has taken active steps to address gender bias, including the proportion of women in leadership roles and employees’ salaries. A third of Sky’s senior leaders are currently women with the aim to move this to half. Through their Women in Leadership Sponsorship and Development programme, Sky are advancing the women already working for them and the number of women in senior leadership has increased from 31% to 38%.
Female Role Models – The Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme is run in association with Diversityjobs member Lloyd’s Banking Group. The initiative connects award-winning women (the ambassadors) with sixth-formers and provides students in London and the south-east schools with mentors and role models, thus strengthening the future talent among Britain’s younger women. Nationwide, Barclays and EDF Energy are some of the organisations working with everywoman, the global membership organisation that champions the advancement of women. The organisation is there for women in business looking to further their careers by focusing on leadership skills, self-confidence and other key areas of personal development, whilst also recognising and celebrating inspirational female role models.
Free Training Programmes for Women – companies are offering complimentary training programmes for women looking to work in the tech sector, such as Sky’s ‘Get Into Tech’ programme. The programmes are designed alongside technology training specialists and feature courses in software development, skills development and job preparation. They offer women an opportunity to acquire and develop critical tech skills in a supportive setting.
Target Setting – With companies acknowledging how central gender diversity is to business success, many are setting goals to work towards. Lloyd’s Banking Group became the first company to set a gender target (40% women in senior roles by 2020) and Atkins have a Gender Balance Improvement Group that constantly monitors how the company are progressing in their aim to increase the proportion of female staff.
This list is not exhaustive, with plenty of other Diversityjobs members showing similar initiatives. However, it aims to provide an idea of the fantastic and creative measures companies are taking to reach a 50/50 split in the workplace.