A new report calls for a radical transformation of the workplace with caring placed at its heart.
The workplace needs to be feminised and redesigned with caring in mind, according to a new radical manifesto for change.
Women at work: designing a company fit for the future by Deborah Hargreaves, founder and board member of the High Pay Centre, says greater diversity and agile working could produce dividends for everyone.
It highlights concerns about the lack of women in technology, the lack of women in senior positions, the gender pay gap and childcare costs.
It says women are still the main carers for children, elderly parents or spouses which makes them more likely to work part-time, in job shares or flexibly. They are more prone to being subjected to exploitative flexible working due to being in lower paid jobs while in more senior jobs often find themselves struggling to squeeze full-time work into part-time hours, says the report.
Even those women who leave companies due to lack of career progression find themselves being advised to hire a male chief executive in order to secure finance for their own business. The report also mentions the failure to recognise the impact of menstruation and menopause and how taboos around them can lead to women feeling vulnerable at work.
The report calls for a more human workplace with caring at its heart. It calls for a carer’s passport for all staff – including agency workers, affordable childcare with an in-house creche or vouchers towards outside provision, agile working with a four-day week, flexible rotas, home working and job-sharing encouraged and facilitated at all levels. It wants to see workplaces that are inclusive and open to people from all heritages, disabilities and identities with mentoring available for all and equal gender representation across all senior roles. In addition, the report envisages a more ethical and sustainable way of working rather than a focus purely on profits and growth and rewards based on the broad values of the company rather than just individual performance.
To achieve this it recommends all-female shortlists and quotas for senior positions. It says that senior appointments are symbolically important because they “signal to everyone that this is a normal state of affairs and encourage women to identify with top roles”.
Hargreaves says: “These ideas are likely to spark the usual carping reaction from those defending the status quo who will say a set-up like this is unaffordable and utopian. But greater diversity in the workplace and new ways of working could produce dividends for all of us and benefits that we are not currently imagining. As women we need to become angrier and refuse to accept the unambitious targets and empty promises we have been given. Some men may lose out along the way, but women have been losing out for much longer. The workplace needs to recognise the stages of a woman’s life and embrace the caring philosophy that women adopt as second nature. What has been a macho set-up now needs to be feminised.”