Women’s careers progressing at snail’s pace

The progress of top women has slowed or even reversed, according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Plus other news.

The progress of women through the glass ceiling has stalled or gone into reverse, according to a survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Sex and Power, the annual survey by the Commission, found that fewer women hold top posts in 12 of the 25 categories it uses to assess progress. In another 5 categories, the number of women remains unchanged since its 2007 report. Women’s representation has increased in only 8 areas.

Areas where there are fewer women include Parliament where there are fewer women MPs than last year and only 19.3% of MPs are women. However, the number of women among FTSE 100 directors has risen slightly from 10.4 to 11%.

The Commission says women are progressing at “a snail’s pace”. The report, the fifth the Commisison has done, has forced the Commission to increase the number of years it estimates it will take until women achieve parity with men.

It says it will take15 years longer than previously estimated (a total of 55 years) for women to achieve equal status at senior levels in the judiciary, and women directors in FTSE 100 companies could be waiting 73 years.

Nicola Brewer, the Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Young women’s aspiration is in danger of giving way to frustration.

Many of them are now excelling at school and are achieving great things in higher education. And they are keen to balance a family with a rewarding career. But workplaces forged in an era of ‘stay at home mums’ and ‘breadwinner dads’ are putting too many barriers in the way – resulting in an avoidable loss of talent at the top.”

She called for radical change and said the report showed it was not just a “women’s issue” but “a powerful symptom of a wider failure”. She said: “The report asks in what other ways are old-fashioned, inflexible ways of working preventing Britain from tapping into talent – whether that of women or other under-represented groups such as disabled people, ethnic minorities or those with caring responsibilities. Britain cannot afford to go on marginalising or rejecting talented people who fail to fit into traditional work patterns. ”

Government rejects calls to delay extension of flexible working

The Government has rejected calls from business to delay the extension of flexible working in the face of the economic crisis.

The Confederation of British Industry had called on the Government to delay the extension of the right to request flexible working to parents of children under 16 until October 2009, rather than implement it in April.

Other businesses had asked for a longer delay until 2010. The Government has instead suggested it could waive the right to have a flexible working agreement written down by employers. Read more

Australian mums would prefer to stay at home

Over two thirds of Australian women would prefer to be stay-at-home mums, according to a survey.

The Galaxy survey of 1,000 adults found only 7% of working mums returned to work because they felt their career was important. Most went back for financial reasons.

Call centres not embracing home working

More than half of call centres have not considered home working for employees or have discounted it as unfeasible, according to a survey.

The flexible work survey was conducted by the Professional Planning Forum who said that flexible working should be moving from the fringes to mainstream option for call centres.
Read more

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