Equality in the Workplace – are we standing in our own way?

by | Jul 20, 2017

How women can help achieve equality in the workplace

“In the HR profession, in the UK, 70% of the workforce is female, but on average women are paid 8.7% less than their male counterparts”

Equality in the workplace

This morning I had the privilege of attending an HR Evolution Forum run by the Knights employment team in Derby. The session was designed to cover the implications and practicalities of ‘gender pay gap reporting’ due to be introduced in April 2018.

On the face of it a dry subject (and I’m glad I don’t have to do the maths) but thought-provoking for a number of reasons; The gender pay gap is still a significant issue and whilst there has been some success in closing the gap this is diminishing, which is probably why the legal requirement to publish pay inequality is coming to the fore.

Read: “Manbassador” hero of gender equality or sop?

Whilst discussing the difference between discrimination and prejudice, potential for personal liability and the impact of unconscious bias on equality in the workplace, I couldn’t help asking myself if, as women, we unconsciously contribute to the problem?

There’s an obvious elephant in the room; women are the primary care givers for both elderly relatives and children, fact. Often, the choice to have a family and therefore maternity leave all too often causes female careers to ‘stall’ or forces the mother to choose a different path. There’s no doubt that with the transparency of ‘pay gap reporting’, organisations will be focussing on what they can do differently to reset the balance, to address equality in the workplace, but what can we do to help ourselves?

Read: Objectifying women in the workplace

  • Apply for the role; conscious incompetence didn’t stop you from learning to drive, don’t let it stop you from taking the next step in your career. It’s been well documented that men are much more gung-ho when it comes to applying for stretch roles; if they can do some of it, they will apply in the assumption they can learn the rest on the job. This is a male characteristic we can and should emulate.
  • Negotiate your starting salary; don’t start off on the back foot, you’ll never catch up. Women typically don’t ask for a pay-rise and they don’t negotiate. Do your research on industry/role pay averages and have the confidence to ask for what you want.

Read: You Start To Negotiate Whilst In Diapers. So Let’s Close the Friggin’ Gap.

  • Own your career; talk about your career objectives, ask for development, chase the stretch assignments which will develop your skills and play to your strengths, sign-post your achievements.
  • Network; build your business network with the right people inside and outside your organisation. You will be noticed and when you find yourself hitting the career-wall, climb over it and move on. If you can’t achieve your career goals in your current company find a new opportunity.
  • Share parental leave; If you truly believe taking extended leave will have an undesirable negative impact on your career, reduce the risk by sharing it.

And finally, cut yourself some slack:

“Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment” – Sheryl Sandberg – Lean In, women, work and the will to lead.

In other words, make the critical things your priority for perfection – everything else will do at 95%.

As ever, my views are my own, this list is by no mean exhaustive and I’d love you to add to it with your experiences and ideas.

Want to address equality in your workplace? Contact 3Plus now!

Nicky Smith Contributor
Nicky is Regional Director at Career Directed Solutions (CDS) who are a niche consulting firm.
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