Tag: gender equality

31% of the workforce sees themselves working from the office full-time in future

A study by Unispace has found that the pandemic and associated work-from-home guidance saw more men than women find a better balance between the office and home. This underscores the need for companies today to create spaces and flexible working approaches that drive equity across all genders. 

According to the Unispace study of 3,000 employees working across Europe, male office workers found a better work/life balance when working from home during lockdown than women (71% vs. 68%). When participants were asked if they feel they can prioritise family and loved ones more after the pandemic exactly the same proportion –  87% – of both groups said yes. That’s according to the new paper, Shifting the Gender Discussion, published by Unispace. 

When looking at those who were hesitant to go back to the office, the top concern expressed by male respondents was a preference to be at home to work around child and carer arrangements, with almost a third (32%) citing this explanation. Fewer women (29%) indicated the same sentiment.

Levelling the playing field

Unispace’s research also revealed that before the pandemic, female employees were more likely than their male counterparts to be completely office based (73% vs. 69%). Men were more likely to be working in a predominantly office-based hybrid way (25% vs. 18%), suggesting a pre-pandemic inequality in flexible working approaches among genders. 

However, when participants were asked about where they are likely to work in the future, exactly 31% of both groups foresaw themselves working from the office full-time, suggesting that there is an immediate opportunity for employers to create spaces and flexible working approaches that drive equity across all genders.

Chely Wright, Chief Diversity Officer at Unispace commented: “While the pandemic had catastrophic consequences for communities across the globe, it has also been a chance to press reset and shift the norm on many aspects of society – the conversation on work-life balance included. 

“When we know better, we do better. Our data shows that we have an opportunity to advance the discussion about equity in the office environment and flexible working policies from a gender-based lens. 

“The employers and companies today that are able to attract and retain the best and most diverse talent will be those that ensure their workforce strategies, working policies and office spaces provide the flexibility and equity needs of all genders. This is a chance for employers to reframe how people of all genders are encouraged back to work and experience their office environments.”

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Two thirds of women say workplace ‘behind’ with gender equality

[subhed] 63% of women feel unsupported at work

Research by Thoughtworks, a global technology consultancy, has found that around two thirds of women in the UK believe there is still a long way to go when it comes to a range of gender equality issues, from career prospects and personal development to parental support.

The research included a sample of over 1,000 women and asked how they rated the organisation they worked for on a variety of inclusion issues. It found that around two thirds of women believed their organisations were behind the industry when it came to equal pay and equitable opportunity (63%), representation (64%), and career development (64%).

Additionally, a significant proportion of survey women believed their organisation either did not have a plan or didn’t know where to start to address issues of equal pay (30%), representation (26%) or career development (32%).

Less than half of the women surveyed (39%) could point to initiatives put in place by their company to address gender inequality, and only one in seven said their organisation had programmes to mentor women employees, while almost a quarter said their organisations provided inclusion training.

The survey revealed that 63% of women felt there was more work that could be done when it came to supporting working parents, with 29% believing their organisation either did not have a plan to resolve this issue or did not know where to start. Just one in six (18%) said their organisation has an official return to work programme.

More broadly, asking a sample of men, women and underrepresented gender minorities (UGM), the research found the vast majority of organizations (89%) agreed that there were business benefits from championing gender equality issues. Almost a third (29%) could see that it would foster better employee relationships, with the same proportion believing it would increase staff retention.

Amy Lynch, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Thoughtworks UK, commented: “International Women’s Day is a key event to shine a spotlight on important areas. There have been some seismic shifts in just a couple of generations, however our results serve as a reminder that the finishing line is still some way off. We have to be candid that some challenges remain, but we can change this with positive action, effective policies and dedication all year round.

“For the tech sector, this is particularly important. There is a wealth of talent out there that does not fit a preconceived ‘mold’ and importantly could offer a sector which relies on innovation and different ways of thinking, a fresh perspective. A culture of inclusion and equity is an essential factor in the quest to attract and retain the best talent. It is the responsibility of leaders within the sector to create paths to give communities that feel technology is not for them the confidence to apply for jobs.”

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Pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality

A detailed report, produced by Sharon Peake, founder and CEO at Shape Talent, has exposed why women in the workplace across Britain and Europe have been so severely impacted by COVID-19.

Sharon Peake, founder and CEO at Shape Talent, said: “The fact is: pre-existing gender inequalities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and many of the hard-earned gains in women’s equality in the workplace, particularly at leadership levels, have been eroded. Women, the world over, are exhausted by the impact of gender bias.”

Predictions by The World Economic Forum expect that the gender pay gap is not going to close for another 136 years, as a direct impact of the pandemic. This is an increase of 36 years on the previous Global Gender Gap Report, which predicted 99.5 years.

Peake explained: “Since time began, gender equality has been viewed as a women’s issue and the focus has been on how to ‘fix’ women. This report does not exist to tell us how unacceptable this is – it is here to provide business leaders with the insight that can focus their strategies on sustainable change and ultimately accelerate gender equality.”

The paper outlines the three barriers that are summarised below:

  • Societal barriers: Subtle and often unspoken cultural cues and messages that reinforce the ways that men and women ‘ought’ to think, behave and feel
  • Organisational barriers: The hurdles experienced in the workplace and a combination of systemic obstacles, cultures and norms which disadvantage women
  • Personal barriers: A diverse range of hindrances, including how women present in the workplace and how they manage the work-family interface.

The paper lists eight guiding principles companies can adopt to counteract the barriers; these are:

  1. Link inclusion and diversity to business strategy
  2. Set the tone from the top
  3. Make inclusion part of cultural change programme
  4. Take an evidence-based approach
  5. Engage men
  6. Build and accelerate the pipeline
  7. Enable a level playing field
  8. Narrow the focus
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