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15th Feb, 2022

Amy Davis
Amy Davis
Job Title
Head of Content

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between October and December 2021, approximately 15.5 million women aged 16 or over, were employed. This contrasts with approximately 16.97 million men. While the number of women in the workplace has increased steadily over the last 10 years (13.71 million in 2011), women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to leadership positions.

So how can you encourage growth of your existing female employees, and ensure you attract the best women to your organisation – these five ideas may help…

1. Close the pay gap

Looking at ONS stats, in April 2021 the gender pay gap among full-time employees was 7.9% - part of a continuing downward trend. However, while numbers are slowly coming down, there is still much work to be done. In its reporting, the ONS also identifies: “Compared with lower-paid employees, higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the sexes.”

Since 2017, companies with 250 employees or more have been required to report on their gender pay gap – this has encouraged many companies, who perhaps didn’t before, to carefully reassess their rates of pay.

When looking to close the gap, it’s vital businesses have robust processes and procedures in place to reduce bias and ensure pay is equal. Businesses that offer bonuses also need to ensure that these schemes are transparent.

The overarching message here is you should pay people their worth for the job they do – no matter where they are from or what gender they are.

2. Be aware of bias

As a manager of any business – especially if you have been employed by that business for a long time – it can be difficult to see where bias lays. Take a step back, or better still commission someone who doesn’t work in your business to assess where unconscious bias exists. It could be something as small as the kitchen rota – expecting women in the office to take more of an active role in cleaning, or it may be that you have more men in sales positions. Identify the areas where inequalities feature and work hard to consciously address these disparities.

3. Offer mentoring, training, and upskilling

Mentoring is an effective way of supporting the women in your business to develop. This can either be an internal or external scheme. Women don’t have to mentor women, in some cases it may also help for women to be mentored by males – whatever benefits the needs of the mentee.

Not only can mentoring empower your female team members and encourage growth, it will also help them to develop their network and learn from like-minded individuals. Mentoring programmes allow your employees to identify and correct any skills gaps they may have, as well as build confidence and reduce feelings of isolation or imposter syndrome. Read our blog on the benefits of the Reed Women in Technology Mentoring Programme – while it covers women working in the tech sector, the principals remain the same whatever sector your female employees are in.

Training and upskilling your female workforce are both equally important. Ensure you are holding regular one-to-one meetings with your female employees to help them to identify areas for growth. Share regular thought leadership with them which may be useful for their development, from blog articles to how-to videos. And where possible, look to invest in external training courses to complement their role and allow them to progress to the next level in their career. Training courses don’t have to be expensive and can often be done online to reduce travel costs and time commitments.

4. Promote flexible, hybrid, and remote working

Covid-19 has brought many changes to the way we work. James Reed, our CEO and Chairman recently labelled the changes as a “revolution” – the biggest shift in the workforce since World War II.

Typically, female members of staff carry the burden of childcare. However, the introduction of hybrid and remote working now mean that more women can work around this challenge. If you don’t already offer hybrid or remote working, and your roles allow for people to work in this manner, then what are you waiting for? Not only will allowing your employees to work this way mean you will attract the best women to your roles, it will also help you retain your existing female workforce.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working when they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks. Don’t wait for your female team members to ask if they can work flexibly, if you see someone struggling - offer it to them as a solution. It’s better to retain that employee and their knowledge, and have them working on shorter hours, than to lose them in your team completely. Also, if you are actively looking to recruit for a role within your organisation – consider advertising it as part time or as a job share – if you are lacking in a diverse workforce, this may offer you an easy answer.

5. Challenge inappropriate behaviour

This point is self-explanatory, where you come across inappropriate behaviour towards women in your team, do something about it.

Ensure you company is well-versed in the Equality Act 2010 - without the correct policies and procedures in place to combat negative attitudes and behaviour towards women, this will never stop. It’s also important that you encourage an inclusive workplace culture that runs through the veins of your organisation. Everyone has the right to a happy workplace where they can thrive, no matter what. Support your female employees to achieve and flourish, and in return they will support your business and work hard for you.

If you are looking for more inspiration on how to empower the women in your workplace, watch our on-demand webinar ‘Break the bias: using mentoring to empower your female team members.'

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