With the highest proportion of working age women in employment ever (78%), and with an increasingly tight labour market, women’s voices need to be heard and the employment proposition has got to change. Last week, two new publications highlighted just that:
Firstly, I was privileged to attend the launch of “Women at work: Designing a company fit for the future”. Refreshingly, it looks at work specifically from a woman’s perspective. It not only highlights the realities of working for many women; the type of work undertaken, caring and cultural challenges, restrictive working practices and barriers to progression, it also considers what a feminine corporation might look like. One that puts caring and flexibility at the heart of the workplace.
And suggests a manifesto for change:
- Inclusivity and equality of progression for all
- Caring passports for all staff
- Affordable childcare
- Focus on agile working
- Ethical and sustainable ways of working
- Rewards based upon company success
The second paper, a government “Roadmap for change” sets out the vision and actions for gender equality. It highlights eight key challenges from childhood to retirement. Most are societal but some are areas that employers may well want to keep abreast of:
- A proposed national campaign to advance gender equality in the workplace
- Encouraging action at a sector level to close the gender pay gap (GPG) similar to the ‘Women in Finance Charter’ and the work we are conducting with the Royal Academy of Engineering
- Voluntary “Investing in Women” Code to increase access to investment for female entrepreneurs
- Tackling gender disparity of apprenticeships
- Consultation on changes to GPG metrics by 2021
- Increasing transparency of parental leave and pay policies
- Consideration of carers leave
- Support for SME’s on flexible working
Although both publications are aimed at reddressing the gender balance at work and so closing the gender pay gap, it’s clear that all of the proposals will benefit men too. Society has moved on from the stereotypical industrial age workplace. Employees of both genders want purpose, flexibility and success that encompasses sustainability as well as financials.
As Tracey McDermott of Standard Chartered Bank says “If we’re all going to be living longer, working differently and retiring later, we need to think about how do we enable people to have careers that come in and out of the workplace”.
So perhaps it isn’t about creating a feminine corporation but a human one.
Are you ready for the next wave of change?