- Unfair treatment of employees returning from maternity leave
- Inflexible working hours not allowing for child-minding responsibilities
- Unequal pay and bonuses for equal work performance across genders
These age old sex discrimination issues and more are still not being dealt with by HR policies. This is crippling UK businesses in their ability to feed high achieving female employees up the management pipe-line, leading to poor gender diversity in the top management positions.
Studies show that gender diversity in top management and board positions is good for business (i.e. McKinsey 2007: Women Matter) and also, probably not so surprisingly that men and women generally have complementary management qualities (i.e. Talent Innovations 2012). This combination of information makes it crucial for companies to ensure their top management includes a good split between males and females.
However, many top UK companies are not setting a good example for our smaller and younger businesses. Many are still working with the attitude of ‘more of the same’ and continuing the traditions of the ‘male, pale and stale’ for boardrooms and top management alike. On FTSE 100 and 250 boards, only 15% and 9% of seats respectively are held by women, and 11% and 45% of these companies have all male boards! (Women on Boards Report 2012) We are a long way from an equal split of 50% males and females on boards and also still a long way behind the leaders in gender equality at board level, Norway, at over 40% females on boards!
Six in ten university graduates are female in the UK and females are faring better on grades than males. Almost 50% of the UK workforce is female (ONS report 2012) yet the talent being shown at University level is being lost on the way to top management through poor HR or lack of HR policy to tackle the age old discrimination issues.
The largest gender pay gap shown in the ONS figures is occurring after the 30’s, after which age progression to top level management for the best and brightest has usually begun. Are HR Policies attempting to ensure that females can still progress their careers when they need time out to have a baby, or flexible hours to take responsibility caring for a child? Or are companies allowing females to be side lined who ‘choose’ to have a child?
The fact that 80% of part-time workers are female and that the median hourly pay for part-time work is almost 40% lower than that for full-time work (ONS 2012 Hourly-earnings) may put forward the possible conclusion that
- companies are still not being as flexible as they need to be for females to continue with full-time work alongside family obligations
- females are being forced into lower paid part-time arrangements for the sake of being better family makers
- companies are losing out on female talents and skills!
Check out our fact sheets for more information on why gender diversity in top management is important and how HR policy can help to break down the barriers to female career progression.