We’ve come a long way since Emmeline Pankhurst, together with her fellow suffragettes, fought; suffered hardship; and even died in the pursuit of women’s rights 100 years ago this year. It’s apt therefore, as we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) this Thursday, 8th March, to explore continuing inequalities in the workplace as well as to celebrate the huge success of women in business.

Let’s start off with some statistics…

Let’s look into those a little further…

Female Entrepreneurs:

There is still an unbalanced ratio between male and female run businesses. However, it is clear to see that women-owned businesses are on the increase. This 2016 quote from womenable.com demonstrates the rapid growth ‘Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses. Therefore, over the past nine years, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate fully five times faster than the national average.’ If the amount of women-owned businesses keeps growing at this rate, hopefully we can reach a balanced ratio one day!’

You only have to attend some of the female business forums as well as their corresponding awards ceremony to see for your self how female entrepreneurship across all sectors inspires and motivates a whole new generation of women in the workplace. Check out Inspiring Women’s Awards in Manchester, which celebrated 25 years of success in 2017, hosted by Jacqueline Hughes Lundy to see what great women are doing across the North West.

Education:

One of the reasons that more women are getting involved in business is due to the changes that the education system has seen. Since ‘The University of London was the first in the UK to award degrees to women’ – oxford-royale.co.uk, in 1878, women in the UK have gone on to excel in higher education. ‘As of 2015, 43% of women in the UK have gone on to tertiary education, compared to 41% of men.’ – catalyst.org

So whilst we celebrating the great positive strides we have made over the year, there are still areas that we need to address. We will continue to strive for equality between men and women in the workplace.

Childcare:

Whilst maternity leave is available for all expectant mothers – a period of up to 52 weeks and paid according to their employers’ maternity policy, there is still a reluctance for partners to take up the opportunity to take ‘shared parental’ leave (SPL) which was introduced into the workplace in 2014 – gov.uk. The Government have launched a campaign to encourage more families to participate in this scheme but in real terms what percentage of parents share their leave after the birth of their baby? According to The Times in September 2017; just ‘1% of new parents take advantage of the scheme intended to bolster equality’. According to the report just  8,700 people used the scheme between April 2016 and March 2017. Whilst 661,000 mothers and 22,000 fathers took maternity and paternity leave during the same period.

Scandanvian countries, where parents are paid 80-100% of pay; new parents are experiencing a 85-95% of fathers taking up their rights. Is social stigma of men taking time off for childcare and the associated cost the reason for this – check out the article here and consider for yourself.

Speak with our HR consultants in Manchester to discuss any aspect of policy on Maternity/Paternity or SPL.

Along with maternity/paternity/shared parental leave issues, pregnancy discrimination is something that potential mothers may face in the workplace today; regardless of the The Equality Act 2010 legislation. The below facts taken from research by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission demonstrate some of the ways in which women are still affected by pregnancy discrimination.

  • ‘Around one in nine mothers (11%) reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 54,000 mothers a year.
  • One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues; if scaled up to the general population this could mean as many as 100,000 mothers a year.
  • 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments; if scaled up to the general population this could mean up to 53,000 mothers a year.’ – equalityhumanrights.com

Pay Gap:

The pay gap still exists across all industries and disciplines. There is a pay gap of 9.4% here in UK; for every £1 a man earns a women receives 89p. To attempt to overcome this, the UK government introduced compulsory reporting of the gender pay gap for organisations with 250 or more employees by April 2018. Have you as a business completed the process for reporting – with April just around the corner? – ons.gov.uk

Sexual Harassment:

Whilst it is of course not just women who are victims of sexual assault, the ‘1 in 10’ statistic in the above infographic is shocking. No one person can solve this problem, but there are many ways in which you can help ensure the safety of your employees. Our HR Consultants have previously spoken about dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, from an employer’s perspective.

Our final thoughts:

We celebrate the success of both men and women in the workplace and whilst there are some areas to overcome,, the strides that women have made in the last 100 years can be summed up by this quote from campaignlive.co.uk.

‘When I look to the year ahead, what I think 2018 needs is to bring people together to celebrate women. Celebrate the 100-year vote anniversary as the significant milestone it is. And recognise that while we haven’t reached all our goals yet, we will eventually. Not one of us can do this alone – we need each other’.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate women in business with the utmost respect and pride. To speak more about women in business or any other HR issues; contact us on 0333 050 3330 or via email at lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk.