Employers are being urged to take “concrete steps” to tackle workplace gender equality on International Women’s Day (IWD) today (8 March).
DeVere Group’s chief operating and diversity officer Beverley Yeomans insists “companies must do more than virtue-signalling” and should set specific goals for improving gender diversity at all levels, then track their progress over time.
She said: “Last year, companies around the world rushed to delete their virtue-signalling social media posts in real time on IWD when challenged about their hypocrisy.
“To be clear, companies should indeed be promoting the core values of IWD on Twitter and other platforms; but they cannot only do this, and not only on 8 March each year.”
Highlighting the unhelpfulness of public displays of advocacy without actually doing anything meaningful to support the cause, she believes practical steps should be taken.
She added: “Policies and practices such as flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and equal pay for equal work must be implemented; recruitment and promotion processes must be proven to be fair and unbiased; and training and education should be given to employees and managers, where appropriate, on issues related to gender equality, harassment, and inclusive leadership.
“IWD mustn’t be used by companies as a marketing tool without implementing any meaningful changes in their policies or practices.
“While it’s important to recognise and appreciate the efforts of businesses that demonstrate their commitment to gender equality and diversity, it is equally important to hold them accountable for their actions and make sure that they make good on their promises.”
Meanwhile, digital health app Peppy believes employers should aim for equity, rather than just equality, in terms of women’s health and wellbeing.
The platform warns that if they do not, they may not achieve a fair representation of women across the business because equity recognises that women have different needs to men. Therefore, it believes this should be considered when resources and support are allocated.
Francesca Steyn, director of fertility and women’s health services at Peppy, said: “Women and men will experience very different journeys in their careers, and as such have different needs at work. Unsupported, these needs quickly turn into lost talent for an organisation, widening gender gaps and an inability to attract certain demographics.”
Peppy believes that employers must start by better understanding women’s biological health that can impact her work life. By offering specific support in this area – such as in relation to pregnancy, miscarriage, and menopause – employers have a greater chance of retaining and attracting this demographic.
Steyn added: “Employees are looking to their employers to recognise their needs and to provide support beyond employment. They want to know they work for a responsible employer, who looks out for them as people not just as staff, and who aligns with their own values, morals and stories. Increasingly, all employees want to feel proud to be part of an organisation that takes women’s health seriously.”
While female employees in the UK is a key focus for employers, Towergate Health and Protection is asking them to also support the equality of those working abroad.
Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health and Protection, commented: “In the UK, we’re so lucky to have awareness and a strong focus on areas of women’s health, coupled with the services the NHS provides – from smear tests and breast cancer screenings to campaigns raising awareness of the menopause and much more – but this is something we are not seeing replicated in some parts of the world.
“Carefully targeted and tailored wellbeing support can make a huge difference to female employees abroad. It can be the deciding factor in the success of an overseas assignment.”