Recently, headlines across the UK called on women to use their authority to demand more from their employers. A new government proposal has been put forward requiring all companies employing more than 250 people to publish details of any gender pay gaps. But will this move actually ensure that women’s talents are given the recognition and reward they deserve?
The decision also comes at the same time as new efforts are being made to encourage more girls to take maths and sciences at A-level. Currently, just 24 per cent of girls take “STEM” subjects, compared to almost forty percent of boys, and the gender pay gap in sectors such as engineering is among the worst across UK business.
Despite the fact that it is illegal to pay different amounts to men and women doing the same jobs under the Equal Pay Act, statistics from the Office for National Statistics suggest the pay gap currently stands at 19.2% for full and part-time workers in the UK. This means that women on average earn around 80p for every £1 earned by men.
Today’s businesses must provide women with not only equal pay, but also with well-defined development opportunities to help them grow professionally and advance their career whilst remaining sensitive to work-life balance. The notion of “work-life balance” is suggesting some kind of trade-off that one side must be up, down or compromised for another. The two are not completely at odds – work is a part of life for both women and men – and must be respected as such.
Businesses will soon have nowhere to hide, so now is the time to create ongoing opportunities to develop women leaders throughout their career cycle. From emerging leaders to senior-level management, learning programs for all experience levels for both men and women must be put in place.
Trish Burridge is the director of consulting services, EMEA, at Skillsoft.