Last week, in celebration of International Women’s Day, it pleased me to see social media taken over with posts, images and positive movement in celebration of women. The theme this year centred around #EmbraceEquity and while I can see huge advancements over the last decade I know we still have a long way to go.
Alongside messages of support and awareness on social media, I came across a lot of news items surrounding the challenges that women still experience in the workforce. The following most stood out to me:
- Men and women have different perspectives as to whether the workplace is inclusive (with 2022 Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Report finding that 88% of male employees state their workplace is inclusive over 75% female).
- Discriminatory behaviour at work still takes place (the same report as in my first point found 1 in 5 women have experienced this).
- Women have genuine fear of losing their jobs if they did say something (according to Young Women’s Trust survey finding 25% of 18- to 30-year-olds felt this way).
- Women do not get promoted at the same rate as men (McKinsey’s most recent research found that for every 100 men who are promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted).
I believe it’s important to celebrate the wins and advancement, but equally don’t want this to take away from the situations where work still needs to be done. We need to continue to call out inequity and keep conversations going, beyond International Women’s Day. We need to create safe spaces where people can be brave and boldly honest about real experiences and blockers. And this is why I believe workplace culture is one of many key elements of delivering equity. As while many companies are setting targets of increasing female hires, and the government-backed review has set a voluntary target of 40% women on boards by 2025, the workplace needs to be supportive of these women as they land and progress, ensuring that their culture and understanding of a diverse workforce allows female employees to excel in their roles.