Published on in Responsible BusinessReshaping Business

1918.  The year World War 1 ended. The year of the first recorded case of Spanish Flu which resulted in a worldwide pandemic killing 50-100 million. The year Moscow became the capital of revolutionary Russia.

There’s no denying 1918 was an interesting year. But what this year also marked was an important milestone for the female portion of society: the Representation of the People Act, which meant women finally got to vote alongside their male counterparts.

But it wasn’t good news for everyone. In the UK, only women over 30 and who owned a property or had a university education were allowed to vote. Signalling that while times were changing – it was only those who lived upper class lives that counted.

Despite being class-based, it was an important step towards a point where women and men could be on an equal footing.

And we’ve come a long way in 100 years – from seeing the UK’s first female Prime Minister elected to the introduction of the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act.

Though, whilst great strides have been made, there’s still an ocean of gender inequality left for us to conquer.

Amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, mandatory gender pay reporting and a push for more women in senior positions, this is especially apparent in the 2018 workplace.

There’s an urgent need for more organisations to be asking themselves: are we properly facilitating an environment which supports all our staff, women and men, in the long-term?

From fostering a female talent pipeline to encouraging an environment in which women are allowed to speak out and be confident in themselves, here are just a few areas where organisations can address gender inequality in the workplace.

Foster female talent pipeline

One major factor preventing gender equality is the pipeline problem. After all, with a third (33 percent) of global businesses reporting to not have any women in senior management roles, women will not reach parity with men until 2060.

If organisations are to address the low number of women in more senior-level positions the first step is to increase the pipeline of talent by driving recruitment of women at a graduate and apprentice level.

But it doesn’t stop there. It’s easy enough to put in place initiatives where half of a company’s graduates employed are women, but this shouldn’t be seen as a box-ticking exercise.

The problem with a lack of women in senior positions is often because they are not being properly retained within the business. This can be done in a number of ways such as through the provisions of flexible working to support women throughout their career lifecycle.

Encourage a culture of inclusion

Whilst it’s one thing to have the right proportion, are organisations facilitating an environment in which people are allowed to speak out or are encouraged to be confident in themselves?

The introduction of women’s networks can be vital in ensuring women receive the proper support and advice they need. And it should be the responsibility of the senior team to take the lead by championing women within their organisation, and encouraging senior women to act as mentors and role models.

Reduce subliminal bias

Whilst recruiting women at a graduate and apprentice level is a great starting point, organisations need to also be aware of and eliminate any subliminal bias in the workplace.

As it’s called ‘unconscious’, people often don’t realise they are being bias. As such, organisations need to be making more effort in eliminating this in recruitment, promotion, selecting people for projects, and in all parts of the business, to make sure it’s fair and equitable.

And there are specific training courses for managers to attend and then roll out across the whole company, so everyone has an understanding and is talking about these topics. It’s done in a hidden way, so people feel they can call out behaviours that are not consistent with company values, and people are given the freedom to do that.

Gender equality for a prosperous UK

 In order to ensure we’re seeing more women in those higher paid roles, its clear organisations across all industries need to be supporting and fostering female talent early on and throughout their careers, helping them to successfully move up the ladder.

As it is only through working with a range of people that organisations can glean unique ideas and embrace the challenges that every single day brings forth, with 70% of women aged 16 to 64 in work, those that fail to foster a whole group of talent properly in the workforces will prevents the UK from seeing a prosperous economy.

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