Developing a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is top of the priority list for every HR department right now – but can this focus on the wider business sometimes cause HR professionals to neglect diversifying their own teams?
Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day on 8th March, Hays recently surveyed over 1,100 people across nearly 100 countries to highlight the perceived barriers to gender equality in the workplace. When asked how committed their employer was to achieving gender equality, almost a third (32%) said their employer was less committed to achieving gender equality than they would like.
45% of all respondents said their employer was very committed to achieving gender equality, but men overwhelmingly (57%) believe this to be the case versus 38% of women. Far more women (39%) feel there is a need for improvement, versus 23% of men.
The survey also revealed that women (72%) are more likely to identify equal pay as the biggest improvement needed versus 39% of men. Although HR is commonly perceived as a sector focused on equality and diversity, it is clear that the path to the top is felt to be restricted by a significant proportion of female employees.
What can organisations do to help women get to the top of the HR profession?
- Ensure talent selection is based on merit only
HR professionals will be all too aware of the processes commonly used to mitigate bias - such as name-blind recruitment - but it is essential that they are aware of the importance of implementing them when hiring for their own team. Removing gender-identifying criteria from CVs and application forms can help mitigate unconscious bias, and assure candidates that they will be fairly considered throughout the process, regardless of their gender.
- Reinforce the need to recognise unconscious bias
For employees to progress within organisations without obstacle, regardless of gender, managers need to be aware that barriers to progression do exist and be self-aware enough to recognise the importance of mitigating bias - however unconscious it might be. Implementing regular training in this area can help facilitate more under-represented groups into leadership roles and ensure that their gender is no impediment to their development.
- Promote flexible working practices
Employers should offer and promote their flexible working practices to prospective and existing employees. Making options such as working from home accessible helps teams feel able to achieve their professional objectives without having to compromise their personal lives, irrespective of gender.
Although we are starting to see improvements in gender diversity, we all have a part to play to continue this journey to balance for better.
About Barney Ely
Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources
Barney joined Hays in 1993 as a business graduate and is now Director for Hays Human Resources. Barney also has operational responsibility for Hays offices across the South of England, placing professionals in over 20 industry sectors covering everything from accountancy and finance to construction, IT education and healthcare.