Published on in Responsible BusinessReshaping Business

The lack of women in senior leadership has been widely exposed by mandatory gender pay gap reporting.

78% of UK organisations are reporting a gender pay gap in favour of men and this has led to our route to achieving gender parity in leadership being brought into greater focus. For example, the latest Hampton Alexander Review reported that women’s representation on boards of FTSE 250 companies is at 24.9%, just short of the 25% target set in 2015. However, it also reported that we still have 74 boards with only one woman.

It is clear that more discussions about gender parity are happening at board level and there is widespread recognition that gender balance in leadership leads to profitability and growth. So with more companies than ever before striving to achieve gender parity, why aren’t we seeing the change we desire and that would benefit our economy?

The World Economic Forum estimated that it will take 217 years for disparities in the pay and employment between men and women to end. This is 47 years longer than they predicted in 2016. The Office for National Statistics also found that women carry out about 60% more unpaid work than men. This imbalance in society exacerbates the gender imbalance in leadership as women in employment may still be expected to take ownership of household management. Unfortunately, we do not seem to be moving forward in our quest for gender parity at senior levels. Despite all of this, as a champion of gender parity, I refuse to let the lack of women in senior leadership to be placed in the ‘too difficult’ box and I encourage you to do the same.

Achieving real change requires committed leadership, sustained effort and systematic focus to shift attitudes, transform cultures, improve processes and tackle hidden biases. It also involves challenging mind-sets and behaviours that are deeply ingrained in our society and culture. This is not an easy goal but we are determined to make those changes at Fujitsu, to enable more women to progress into leadership roles.

At Fujitsu we encourage collaboration between organisations and sectors and we are holding an event at the Houses of Parliament to bring together our customers and partners for an honest debate about why we are all struggling to shift the dial on this issue. We want to get a deeper insight into the challenges we face and explore our shared barriers, so we can identify solutions and understand how we can work together to achieve real change.

We want to explore challenging questions like:

  • How do we overcome feelings of fatigue with the continued need to push for parity and avoid the disillusionment of activists?
  • How can we support women to advance in work despite taking on heavier domestic burdens at home?
  • How do we make sure women are promoted for merit and not for their gender?
  • How to shape leadership culture into a place that is attractive to women?

If you believe we need to do more collaboratively to make a difference, have ideas and experiences to contribute, then I would love to hear from you.

We believe collaboration is key to achieving gender parity, especially in senior leadership. In 2019, we will be sharing outcomes from the event and sharing our strategy and actions to reduce the gender pay gap through a series of blog posts.

Read more blogs in the series:

Launching a pilot to insist on gender diverse shortlists for new recruitment

How Fujitsu’s Women’s Business Network is improving gender parity across the industry

Inspiring Inclusive Leaders

Two small changes to create a diverse graduate scheme

How Girls Days are building a pipeline of future female tech talent

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