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Over three quarters of UK HR directors do not believe men have an advantage over women in the workplace and most consider policies specifically targeting women’s advancement a low priority, according to research by recruitment specialist Robert Half.
The research found initiatives based on positive discrimination, or the specific advancement of women in business, are low on the agenda for a majority of UK companies with only 41 per cent of HR directors saying they have, or plan to introduce, programmes specifically tailored for women.
For those who do have policies in place, 93 per cent of respondents believe they are effective in helping women become professionally on a par with their male counterparts. This suggests that, in addition to improving a business’ diversity credentials, these policies are a good employer branding opportunity to encourage more women candidates to apply to these roles.
Initiatives companies seek to implement to help women become professionally on a par with men in the workplace are predominantly focussed on professional development and higher education opportunities (60%). While just under half (47%) of HR Directors surveyed cited the setting of performance targets as the key to closing gender inequality, 40% cited the need for a flexible working environment, encompassing factors such as flexitime and telecommuting.
Karen Dobson, Director, Robert Half UK said; “It is fantastic that we are witnessing talented individuals such as Virgina Rometty [IBM’s new CEO] being promoted to head up a global organisation, however, it is disappointing that this is still viewed as unusual or sensational. That talk of a gender divide still has currency in the workplace is extremely disappointing more than 80 years after universal suffrage was achieved. While HR directors believe men do not have an advantage over women in the workplace, there is still not equality on the boards of FTSE 100 companies or in gender pay. Companies should regularly review their succession and remuneration plans to ensure that women are treated fairly and equally, with policies to take into account their family and personal commitments.
“Companies can help break the glass ceiling by carefully managing the talents of strong female candidates early in their careers and implementing diversity programmes specifically tailored to women.”