Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
Post-pandemic there has definitely been a shift towards roles being able to be offered on a part-time or role-share basis. This was very uncommon pre covid meaning companies were missing out on a large proportion of the female (and also male) workforce who could be a great fit for the position but were looking to manage their work/life balance, perhaps due to family commitments or changes in their situation. Advances in technology and company infrastructure now means having someone full-time, five days a week, in a role isn’t always necessary, so the gender bias there has reduced somewhat.
2. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?
Being open to discussing maternity leave policies as part of the recruitment process. This is often a very important factor for women when deciding to move roles, but it’s seen as a taboo topic to discuss when interviewing. I think removing the stigma around this will attract more women to apply for roles, and will create and open and honest dialogue around business planning.
3. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
Specifying what qualities/skills are “essential” vs “desirable”. A study on LinkedIn suggested women are more likely to apply for the roles if they feel they posses 100% of the role requirements, whereas men will apply after meeting about 60%. This is a generalisation, but has been reflected in my experience of discussing roles with candidates, often having to encourage women who don’t identify with all aspects of the job spec to put themselves forward.
4. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
Being supportive and non-judgemental of any choices women decide to make in the workplace, be it working part-time or full-time, taking career breaks, requesting flexibility etc. All are valid choices and shouldn’t negate someone’s ability to perform well in a role if they have the relevant skill set.
5. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think it comes back to lacking maternity (and paternity) leave policies and return-to-work schemes, as, on the whole, deciding when or whether to have a family directly impacts a woman’s ability to move roles or progress within a company and reach leadership positions. I would also say the significant discrepancy in maternity vs paternity leave support reinforces the bias that women should, or want to take on the majority of childcare responsibilities, which is no longer the case in modern society.