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The cost to the economy of low gender diversity

gender pay gap

A New report from everywoman outlines financial implications of underutilised talent pool. everywoman, the expert in the advancement of women in business, has today launched a report that highlights the financial cost to the UK economy of inadequate gender diversity in the workplace.

The report is a wake-up call to businesses at a time of economic volatility and uncertainty. We cannot allow gender diversity to be reduced to a footnote. Women make up 49 percent of the global workforce and yet 33 percent of organisations around the world still have no females in senior management positions Retaining and Advancing Women in Business: A model for success reveals that, despite high profile campaigns tackling female inclusion and the gender pay gap, progress is worryingly slow with 36 percent of British businesses recording no women in senior management roles at an estimated cost of £23 billion to the UK economy.[3]

Drawing on a study from a sample of its 20,000 members and research by other leading organisations, everywoman’s report recommends that businesses address this issue through greater emphasis on female role models, mentors and workplace sponsors along with engaging the right tools and programmes to develop female talent. Speaking about the report, everywoman co-founder Karen Gill MBE comments, “This research shows that when women have access to role models and learning opportunities they develop faster and further along the talent pipeline. It confirms that it is possible to show a return on investment for committing to engaging, retaining and advancing female employees.  This report speaks to business leaders, HR professionals, learning and development specialists and diversity and inclusion champions demonstrating the necessity to build a solid business case for gender diversity within their organisations and reap the rewards that gender parity offers.”

The report finds that uncovering and elevating female role models is a powerful means to encourage career progression. When women have regular access to role models, 74 percent state that this inspires them to develop their careers. The importance of training opportunities is also examined, with 81 percent of women who regularly use a wealth of learning and development resources reporting this has enabled them to develop their careers. Combined with access to role models, regular use of learning and development resources on the everywomanNetwork results in a stronger likelihood (42 percent) of promotion and women continuing their career at their current organisation (75 percent)[4]. This model offers a clear solution to the shortage of women in senior management.

Virgin Media’s experience supports this with Sharon Murray, Head of Culture and Inclusion, saying, “When we decided to pilot the effectiveness of the everywomanNetwork, our foremost aim was to increase engagement levels among our female middle managers who were less engaged than their male counterparts. Our investment in this group of 400 women in the past 12 months has started to show some real results – not least in our most recent company engagement survey, where the levels of engagement of our everywoman cohort has increased from 61 percent to 67 percent – now higher than their male counterparts. Giving them this opportunity to access role models and a variety of learning and development material is working.”

Retaining and Advancing Women in Business: A model for success identifies that when women’s appetite for learning is not met they are more likely to look elsewhere for employment, often to a business competitor.   Inadequate training is the second biggest reason cited by job leavers (62 percent) yet 38 percent of learning and development professionals feel unable to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workers.

With growing acknowledgement that gender balanced teams produce stronger governance, effective decision-making and financial output the report examines the significant financial impact of gender parity at board level in terms of return on equity (41 percent) and operating results (56 percent).  It also measures the hidden cost of female manager turnover – estimated at £780,000 for a business employing 300-400 managers.

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