In 2021 is gender inequality in the workplace still really a thing? Sadly, yes.

International Women’s day is a global event where people come together to champion women’s rights, female empowerment and gender equality.

The first National Women’s Day was recorded in 1909 in New York City, where 15,000 women went on strike to protest poor working conditions, poor pay and demand the right to vote. The following year the Socialist party declared the first National Women’s Day in honour of those workers. It was first celebrated internationally in 1911 when Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland were among the first countries outside of the US to mark the day. Then in 1917 Russian women staged a strike protesting against food shortages and inflation. This strike granted them the right to vote. In 1975 the United Nations declared the 8th March the official day to advance the status of women worldwide as part of its commitment to championing women’s rights.

Each year International Women’s Day is themed and 2021 is #ChoosetoChallenge. It’s easy to think that due to recent initiatives women in the workplace are now equal. However, that is not the case and it is the job of everyone to challenge gender stereotypes and bias.

For instance, with the COVID-19 crisis, it is suggested that women could be set back over a decade due to increased pressures from home life pushing women to consider downgrading their careers or to leave the workforce completely.

Gender Pay Gap

The Gender Pay Gap is something that has been monitored by the UK Government since 2017. 35% of managers questioned by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in a 2019 survey claimed their company had no gender pay gap. However, the same survey found that 8 out of 10 UK businesses did in fact pay men more than women.

Updated data from the CMI’s study also revealed the 63% of 3,000 managers questioned expected to see redundancies in 2021. Yet 80% said their company has not taken steps to make sure losses did not fall disproportionately on women.

With many businesses suffering it is suggested that there are a proportionally higher number of women than men who work working reduced hours or have been furloughed due to caring responsibilities.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gender Pay Gap enforcement was suspended by the UK government in March 2020 and there is a fear that this will be a huge step back.

Women at the top

In 2016 the UK Government-backed the Hampton-Alexander review which was launched to try to encourage listed businesses to appoint more women in senior leadership roles. The recent figures released revealed that the number of women holding Non-Executive Director roles has increased by 50%.

This review had many successes with the results showing that there are no longer any all-male boards in the FTSE 350. Also, businesses that were operating a ‘One and done’ approach to females on the board had fallen from 116 to 16.

However, there’s still work to be done as The Pipeline’s Women Count 2020 report stated that only 2 out of 10 businesses asked had female Chief Financial Officers.

Whilst progress has been made on getting women at the board table, in other senior leadership and key decision-making roles, women are still very underrepresented.

Many arguing that although the uptake in the government’s Women on Boards voluntary program has been positive, we should not get complacent.

On this International Women’s Day 2021, we stand in support of gender equality and remain active participants in the conversation and to finding the solutions. We regularly challenge employers’ misconceptions and thinking to that a wider pool of exceptional talent can be reached. So today, what are you going to #ChooseToChallenge?

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