Workplace gender divide narrows - Business Works
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Workplace gender divide narrows

Phil Sheridan, MD Robert Half W omen are increasingly breaking through the glass ceiling and have increasing employment opportunities, particularly in terms of career advancement and remuneration. However, the research by Robert Half recruitment warns that barriers still remain.

Based on interviews with more than 180 HR Directors from companies across the UK, over three quarters of respondents (78%) do not believe that men have an advantage over women in the workplace, demonstrating that there is progress being made on the gender front.

Despite this optimism, a fifth of HR directors do not think that women are on par with men in the workplace, indicating that there may still be inconsistencies based on gender. Half of the respondents believe that family commitments are responsible for this imbalance and a significant number of HR directors believe that a lack of promotional opportunities (42%) and the desire to maintain a good work life balance (36%) are the differentiating factors between men and womens professional development.

"While it is encouraging that over three quarters of HR directors dont view men as having an advantageous position over women in the workplace, more needs to be done," said Phil Sheridan, MD of Robert Half UK. "Companies should regularly review their succession and remuneration plans to ensure that women are treated fairly and equally, with policies to take into account their family commitments."

"HR policies should help to embrace a culture of progression and innovation within an organisation," continues Sheridan. "This is particularly important in light of the recent report by Lord Davies, which pushes for targets to be implemented to ensure that more talented and gifted women can get into the top jobs in companies across the UK."

"Companies can help break the glass ceiling by carefully managing the talents of strong female candidates early in their careers and implementing diversity programmes specifically tailored to women."

The research also reveals that initiatives specifically designed to support womens advancement in the workplace are low on the agenda for a majority of UK companies, with only 41% of HR directors saying they have or plan to introduce programmes specifically tailored for women. Companies in London are leading the way here (42%), as are organisations in the public sector (48%). For those who do have policies in place, it is encouraging to see that an overwhelming 93% of respondents believe they are effective in helping women become professionally on par with men in the workplace. This suggests that, in addition to improving a business diversity credentials, these policies are a good employer branding opportunity to encourage more women candidates to apply to these roles.

HR directors were asked "What initiatives will your company implement to help women become professionally on par with men in the workplace?" Their responses:

Focus on professional development / higher education opportunities 60%
Setting performance targets 47%
Support for telecommuting / flexible working arrangements 40%
Support for alternative business travel arrangements 13%
Mentorship programmes 13%
Remuneration review 13%
Quota systems for recruitment intake 7%
Quota systems for executive promotions 7%

Robert Half:

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