There's a lot around this week, and today especially, about gender equality, but what actually works to reduce inequality in the workplace?
What is clear from talking to employers who want to reduce the gender pay gap is that this is an entrenched problem which will not change overnight and which needs a variety of strategies and approaches at all levels of an organisation as well as concerted attempts to measure progress and continual review. In short, it is about rethinking and challenging all established processes and career paths to see whether they work against any particular groups.
It also requires sharing ideas and it is clear from workingmums.co.uk's roundtables on many of the key issues affecting the pay gap that many employers are more than happy to share and learn from what others are doing.
This week workingmums.co.uk has released a new report which highlights what some of the most progressive employers are doing in areas such as four-day working weeks, returners and neurodiversity.
workingmums.co.uk's new Best Practice Report is published for International Women's Day and highlights what the winners of our Top Employer Awards are doing in terms of flexible working and gender equality at work.
The report, which is free on the workingmums.co.uk site, shows clearly the business rationale for sharing ideas and for promoting equality, from increasing the talent pool and the diversity of experience of employees to retaining key members of staff - particularly as the competition for the best talent increases amid global uncertainty.
Each employer profile includes case studies of employees who highlight the personal impact of the award-winning policy or practice. The employers included in the report are: FDM Group, Roche, Radioactive PR, UBS, Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure and Civil Service Human Resources. Also interviewed is Julianne Miles from Women Returners about her outstanding work on returners.
Two of the employers highlighted - FDM Group and financial services company UBS - are leaders in returner policy. UBS takes an innovative approach involving hiring returners directly into jobs through its Career Comeback programme while FDM Group specialises in large-scale returner cohorts to tech roles. Those it recruits do not have to have a background in technology and, although its programme is open to men and women, it contributes significantly to boosting the number of women in tech.
Roche is highlighted for its holistic approach to diversity in its recruitment processes, including interesting work on neurodiversity. For Roche, having a diversity of viewpoint and of ways of looking at problems is a big business benefit.
Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure speaks about its comprehensive lifecycle approach to the multitude of issues facing employees outside work. It clearly understands how providing support helps employees focus and enjoy their work more.
Civil Service Human Resources talks about its impressive, wide-ranging work on promoting job shares. Job shares are seen as a vital way to retain experienced women and ensure they can continue in senior roles and progress up the career ladder.
Finally, Radioactive PR talks about its decision to implement a four-day working week. That decision has drawn a lot of attention, but it represented quite a risk for its owner Rich Leigh. He says the benefits of giving employees back some of their free time have included increased motivation and energy.
It is clear that tackling gender inequality and boosting the number of women at all levels of organisations is a long-term issue with deep roots and it will not be fixed overnight. That means employers need to work together to address some of the broader social issues around gender stereotypes, to share what others are doing and to discover what is effective and what isn’t. The end goal is worth it, though - ensuring employers have the best talent and develop the potential of all their employees.
Mandy Garner is editor of workingmums.co.uk, a jobs and news site on issues relating to gender equality and family friendly working.