Survey finds still a way to go to reach gender parity at work

Analysis by the Chartered Institute of Management shows that women still have a way to go to reach gender parity with men in management roles.

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Fewer than half (41%) of management roles in the UK workplace are held by women, according to analysis of the Labour Force Survey by the Chartered Management Institute, [CMI] with that figure falling to 38% for women in senior business-leading positions.

The CMI also polled managers for International Women’s Day, finding that only 61% of respondents said managers or senior leaders ensured that women and men received an equal voice in meetings and decision-making and only 49% said they have managers or senior leaders actively and visibly championing gender equality initiatives.

The survey also found that only 34% of respondents reported that they have mentoring and sponsorship programmes in their place of work that champion the progression of women.

Furthermore, only one in five (22%) of managers said that managers or senior leaders proactively seek out and advocate women for key projects, roles and promotions, and this dips to just 14% for female respondents compared to 27% for male respondents.

However, there was positive news regarding flexible working arrangements: 89% of managers told CMI that their organisation now offers flexible arrangements, compared to 58% before the Covid pandemic.

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of CMI, said: “As we mark International Women’s Day this year these findings make for uncomfortable reading. We hear a lot from employers about the important, valuable role of women in the workplace. And though there is a lot of great work and progress, overall the figures don’t support the rhetoric.

“Our research shows a very real gap between perception and reality. There is no reason why, in this day and age, women should be any differently represented in management and senior workplace positions compared to their male colleagues. Organisations need to take a real hard look at how they support their female employees and what they actually have in place to help them with career development and success.

“I’d hoped that our findings would tell a very different story. Unfortunately it seems the move to male-female parity, particularly in senior roles, in the workplace remains something of a slow process and we’re well behind where we should have been by IWD 2022.”

The CMI is calling on the Government and employers to take a number of concrete steps to tackle the continuing underrepresentation and gender divide within the UK workplace:

  • Commit to an impact assessment of how women’s position in the workplace has been affected by the pandemic and implement recommended actions that come out of this assessment.
  • Make action plans a requirement as part of reporting and bring medium-sized firms into scope.
  • Champion gender-balanced workplace practice through a commitment to good management and leadership through the development of comprehensive Equity, Diversity and Inclusion plans.

It also wants to see employers ensuring company-wide training to embed inclusive practice and an awareness of equity and its importance and proactive action to ensure women are equitably represented on shortlists for recruitment and promotion as well as the provision of two-way workplace flexibility that takes account of employees and not only business or organisation needs.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the PLSA and Railpen has found that many employers are not being fully transparent about their diversity and inclusion data, particularly when it comes to ethnicity, disability, sexuality and age. While the vast majority of FTSE 100 companies analysed provide figures on their investment in diversity and inclusion, only 22%  provide a breakdown of their workforce by ethnicity, 10% by age, 5% by sexuality and 4% by disability. The survey also found a lack of transparency over training, with only 35% disclosing the hours of training they provide and 16% revealing training costs. Moreover, only 13% of annual reports discussed mental wellbeing in relation to health and safety or risk assessments.

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