Special Gender Newsletter June 2011

Chairmen need to announce gender goals – Lord Davies

Lord Davies has urged FTSE 350 companies to boost the percentage of women at the board table to 25% by 2015, but stopped short of imposing quotas, unless voluntary measures fail. Lord Davies called on chairmen to announce in the next six months their goals “to ensure that more talented and gifted women” get top jobs saying “Currently 18 FTSE 100 companies have no female directors at all and nearly half of all FTSE 250 companies do not have a woman in the boardroom,” Click here for the full report.

The Equality Academy will shortly be producing a comment article outlining our view of the Lord Davies report and its implications for business.

“Calm Down Dear”

Women MPs face an uphill battle to be taken seriously says Anna Bird, Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society responding to the Prime Minister’s comment that a female MP should ‘calm down dear’, she says:

“There are four times as many men as women in the House of Commons. Those women that have made it into Parliament must fight an uphill battle to ensure their views are taken seriously, and face a culture of sexist jeering and dismissive comments – not just by other MPs but by the Prime Minister himself …. Key to stamping out this outdated and sexist culture is getting more women round the table. Despite his pledges prior to the election, the Prime Minister runs the country with a Cabinet where just 4 of the 23 Ministers are women…. In the past year, the Government has launched what amounts to an attack on women’s jobs, employment rights and financial security. Massive cuts to the public sector workforce, reductions in public services more generally, and dramatic changes to the tax and welfare system could set equality on a backwards course…”

£290,000 awarded for sexual harassment: In a case where the employer admitted serious sexual harassment by one of its managers, an employment tribunal awarded a female employee £290,000. BT Directories Limited admitted a long list of offensive comments and behaviour amounting to sexual harassment towards the claimant. It found that the harassed employee was unlikely to work in the same environment again, and would never reach the same level of earnings that she had before her resignation due to the harassment.

Becoming a Gender Intelligent Workplace

American Express recently won the Opportunity Now 2011 global award. It is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company. It’s refreshed global diversity and integration strategy that focuses’ on three core pillars:

1. Talent segmentation: attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent

2. Market segmentation: to support and advance targeted solutions for key customer segments

3. Workplace transformation: creating an engaging workforce.

American Express has achieved a gender rich representation overall, (63% females worldwide, 30% at VP level and 15% at Executive Board level), figures that have remained fairly consistent over the past five years. The organisation’s 22 Women’s Interest Networks worldwide and Women’s Development Programmes have been successful in identifying key issues for women. The focus has been on a creating a step change through developing:

The Opportunity Now 2011 advancing women in the workplace award for a particular initiative/intervention which aids recruitment, retention and/or development of women went to Barclays Bank for its Women’s Initiatives Networks. These networks delivered actions included mentoring programmes, utilising the experience of members to benefit talented women, and monthly access to senior leaders and influencers via “Fireside chat” sessions. Member feedback has led to improvements such as increased maternity benefits.

Violence against women and girls: The Government Equalities Office says this is often a hidden crime and a comprehensive understanding of its prevalence remains a challenge. However, the research that they have done has revealed a shocking picture with approximately two people in England & Wales killed every week by a partner or ex-partner:

other data includes:

Fathers also have post-natal depression

One out of every seven new mothers has post-natal depression – but, according to the Fatherhood Institute, one out of every 10 fathers are depressed both before and after their baby is born. They say the peak time for fathers’ depression is thought to be between three and six months after the birth. Hormones, lack of sleep, increased responsibility and general life stresses can apply to men just as much to women, and if their partner is depressed, then men are more likely to be too.

Click here for full report.

Selection of male employee for redundancy was sex discrimination The EAT has held that the provision in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 allowing special treatment to be afforded to women in connection with pregnancy or childbirth is subject to the principle of proportionality. That principle was breached when in a redundancy exercise the employer awarded full marks to a woman on maternity leave in relation to a particular aspect of her performance. The resulting selection of a male colleague for redundancy therefore amounted to sex discrimination. Eversheds Legal Services Ltd v de Belin

Discrimination against pregnant women

Discrimination against pregnant women and those on maternity leave appears to have become more blatant as the economic climate has worsened, concludes a new report on Working Families’ legal helpline. Working Families runs a free legal helpline for disadvantaged parents and carers who need advice about their employment rights. In 2010, maternity rights continued to constitute about one-third of calls to the free helpline for parents and carers on employment rights. Some 12% of calls overall included concerns about redundancy and restructuring. Report on Working Families helpline 2010

Budget 2011 leaves women out in the cold

A new report has warned that the 2011 Budget will do little to help those faring worst in the face of drastic public spending cuts and rising unemployment, and in fact risks widening gender inequality.

Key findings of ‘The Impact on Women of the Budget 2011’,a UK Women’s Budget Group report produced in partnership with the Fawcett Society include:  The current economic strategy looks set to undermine gender equality in the labour market: if current trends continue, more women than men in the UK will be unemployed, for the first time since records began.

Ambition & Gender at Work – the ‘Glass Ceiling’ still exists for women in business

The business case for gender diversity is compelling yet only 12% of FTSE 100 boards members are female. The Institute of Leadership and Management spoke to 3,000 managers to find out what drives career ambition and to explore the barriers preventing women’s progression into senior management and leadership positions. Almost three-quarters of women in managerial roles believe that a “glass ceiling” prevents them from being promoted to senior management or from serving on company boards. The survey found that 73% of female respondents felt there were barriers preventing them from progressing to the most senior levels of management. By contrast, just 38% of men believed there was a glass ceiling for women. Click here for full report.

Women not ambitious?

Deborah Meaden a hugely successful businesswoman and member of the Dragon’s Den TV programme panel was asked why there are so few women in business at her level. She replied that lack of confidence in their own abilities was a huge factor. Deborah described a group of women at a networking or business event, all very successful high achievers. She said, ‘every one of them will be wondering why they have been invited and are there in the company of such amazing women!’ A stereotype or true?

Barriers to senior women in the financial sector

Some senior women in financial services, particularly in client-facing roles, have opted not to have children in favour of their career, reveals a study into the reasons for the under-representation of women within top-tier management of the financial sector.

The recent report includes key recommendations from senior female executives on how companies can break down the barriers many women face. These include:

Past perspectives; future change: a study into the experiences of senior women in financial services

Families and work: revisiting barriers to employment

Mothers’ ability to return to work is dependent on the type of jobs available and support from family and friends, according to research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions to discover what prevents parents from returning to the job market and whether recent initiatives have been successful in helping them to make the transition into work.

Policy implications the research concluded that: