New research reveals that most women don’t see their workplace as being discriminatory against women, despite widespread official reports to the country. Why is this? And what can businesses do to improve gender equality, particularly those that have difficulty attracting women?
Despite the legal requirement to ensure gender equality in the workplace, many organisations are unaware that for many employees the reality is different. This latest research from Great Place to Work – Women at work. Is it still a man’s world?’ – represents the views of over 170,000 UK employees surveyed during the 2014 Best Workplaces Programme. Key findings include:
- 87% of women and 91% of men think there is no gender discrimination in their workplace.
- The number of women in executive positions decreases significantly the more senior the role – only 29% of executive/senior management roles are held by women compared with 71% held by men.
The research found no evidence to support the argument that women lose out on senior roles because they leave employment to raise a family. Men and women actually had similar lengths of service (although this time would have included any maternity leave during employment).
Contrary to the notion that women in senior roles are aware of the pay gap and are actively working to change this, our research shows that the more senior the position the more likely women are to agree that their pay is fair.
Despite women being less satisfied with gender fairness at work, our research found that generally women seem to accept the situation. Reasons for this are likely to include:
- Accepting the pay gap as a de facto situation so they don’t see it as discriminatory.
- Lack of transparency over pay.
- Women are more reluctant to ask for a pay rise.
Women derive more satisfaction from the softer, social aspects of work such as team work and feeling part of a ‘family’ which could provide some compensation for the lower financial benefits.
The report highlights the need for employers to pay closer attention to the specific differences between men and women’s experiences, rather than just focusing on the overall results. That will help identify and address any inequalities such as making pay and promotions more transparent and ensuring their policies and practices are gender and age relevant. For example, organisations may need to focus on their flexible working and child care programmes to keep their talented women in the 35-44 age group; expectant dads may welcome workshops just as much as women. Some employers offer Women Networks. These offer a range of support such as career coaching, role models, help with image and a whole host of other female-friendly opportunities to encourage women’s career development.
- Our study has found that the majority of men and women surveyed agree that people in their workplaces are treated fairly regardless of their gender.
- The findings also suggest that despite the on-going gender inequalities in seniority and remuneration, there isn’t a significant outcry about them in the workplace. Instead, apathy and acceptance are often the case which can only encourage discriminatory practices to continue.
- Overall women are 3% less satisfied with pay than men, which reflects a small awareness of the gender pay gap but not a significant dissatisfaction. Despite the gender pay gap increasing with seniority we found that more women in senior roles agreed that pay was fair.
- To address the gender pay gap employers could offer negotiation training or a clear, structured policy for pay rises, as well as supporting the ongoing campaign for salary transparency.
- Despite all the above we found that overall women have greater trust in management and are more engaged than men.
- The results also point to a general appreciation from women of the other benefits of a job, not just the more obvious financial ones. This suggests that women appreciate different aspects of the workplace which may in part compensate for the pay differences between the genders. Understanding these differences can help organisations design their recruitment and reward strategies.
- In organisations with more men there was more likely to be a greater feeling by women that the workplace was not gender fair. However, it was not a case of majority rules as this was not generally the case in organisations with more women employees.
- Whilst the overall results show that the majority of people think that there is no gender discrimination in their workplace, larger differences are uncovered when looking at various organisation and employee characteristics including organisation size, industry, type of job, seniority and tenure.
- Practical examples of people practices related to gender, as used by the UK’s Best Workplaces, are included at the end of this report.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Women at work. Is it still a man’s world? New research – Great Place to Work® United Kingdom.