This Wednesday 8th March is International Women’s Day; an event that has been around since the early 1900’s, with an original aim of achieving full gender equality around the world whilst celebrating women’s achievements, from the political to the social. Today its aims are no different – to have a more inclusive, gender-equal world.
Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times, however, according to the UN, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men.
So what are some of the hard facts?
- On average, women around the world receive between 30-40% less pay than men earn for the same work
- Only half of the world’s working-age women are in employment, compared to 77% of working-age men
- Around the world, only 22% of all national parliamentarians are female. And although that is double the number from 1995, it is still a marker of slow change
- Only 30% of the world’s researchers are women.
- In nearly every country, women work longer hours than men and are paid less
- Approximately 60 million girls are denied an education all over the world
- On average 15 million girls under 18 are married with little or no say in the matter
- 4 out of 5 victims of human trafficking are girls
- Women around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria
The work of International Women’s Day has set a theme of “Women in the Changing World of Work – Planet 50:50 by 2030”. So what can you do in your workplace to help us move towards this goal? Here are four basic measures you can take to help drive equality in your workplace today:
- Equal work means equal pay:
Establish a policy that ensures both male and female staff are paid equally for the same role, and they are given the same opportunities in terms of recruitment and promotion.
- Get familiar with anti-discrimination laws:
As an employer, you should have a thorough understanding of the laws in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace, for example equal pay, harassment, victimisation and direct discrimination based on sex. Make sure you have a strict policy against sexual harassment with clear guidelines on what this involves.
- Select for roles based on ability, not gender:
It’s a common perception that women are generally better suited to support type roles, whereas men will excel in leadership positions; however it is these stereotypes that form the basis of gender discrimination at work. Make sure the hiring and allocation of work is conducted on the basis of an individual’s abilities and character, regardless of whether they are male or female. The preference of customers, clients or other employees is not a legitimate and protected reason to treat employees differently according to gender.
- Train your line managers:
By providing training to those in a management position for how best to deal with gender equality in the workplace, they will be better equipped for tackling any issues that arise. You should educate them on how to identify and handle any form of discrimination that may take place in a work environment and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
Also worth bearing in mind, is that in April 2017, all private sector employers with over 250 employees will be legally obliged to publish an annual report setting out the gender pay gap in their business: A sign that this matter is being taken very seriously. Our employment law partner, Sally Nesbitt of Moorcrofts has written an Employer’s Guide covering the key concepts of the draft Gender Pay Gap Regulations and we will be providing a link for you to access these later this week. Watch this space.
Unfortunately the World Economic Forum is predicting that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. IWD is asking us to come together to drive this change sooner. We would love to hear from any of you on what you are doing to celebrate International Women’s Day or raise awareness.
For more information visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com