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Working Women Not Treated as Equals of Their Male Colleagues

Sarah Aubrey

Less than half of working women feel that they are treated as an equal to their male colleagues in similar roles, new research has revealed. Contributor Sarah Aubrey, CEO –  DPG.

The study, which was conducted by Salary Finance, a salary-linked employee benefits provider that partners with employers to deliver financial wellbeing for staff, delved into aspects of women’s working lives.

Less than half of working women feel that they are treated the same way as their male colleagues in similar roles.  Only 34 percent agree that their employer cares about them and understands the specific issues that women face in the workplace, and only a third agree that their employer is making an effort to improve the workplace for women. Just 30 percent of women agree that their employer provides wellbeing initiatives that cater specifically for women’s needs, such as periods, menopause, and pregnancy. 

Women are more likely to have money worries than men with 43 percent of women suffering from financial worry compares with 36 percent of men. Women are also more likely to have been refused a loan from a bank, which puts women in a worse financial situation than men. Whilst the factors behind why this could be are complex, this recent survey indicates that women are disadvantaged in the workplace due to pregnancy, menopause and monthly period pains.  It seems that the workplace has progressed very little since the dark ages.  

The most common negative effects that women have experienced following a pregnancy-related career break include:

  • Reduced feeling of financial security (24 percent)
  • Reduced salary against own expectations (23 percent)
  • Judgement from male colleagues (21 percent)
  • Reduced feeling of job security (20 percent)
  • Stunted progression (19 percent)

Reduced feeling of financial security was highest for women working in the law enforcement and security sector, whereas stunted career progression was most felt by women working in business, consulting and management roles. In recruitment and HR, females feel a lack of flexibility, and those returning to jobs in science and pharmaceuticals felt their role had significantly changed upon returning to work.

Sarah Aubrey, CEO at DPG, commented on the topic: “When it comes to getting back into the workplace, be prepared to negotiate for an arrangement that suits you. English, Scottish and Welsh employees have a legal right to request flexible working. It’s known as ‘making a statutory application’, and the only requirement is that you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before making the request. Your request can involve job sharing, working from home, compressed hours and more. Your employers do not have to approve your request, but they must handle it in a reasonable manner and explain their decision if they refuse”.

Speaking on equal pay, Michael McNally, Employment Law Solicitor, Warners Solicitors, says: “While unequal pay has been unlawful since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, there is no law about the size of an organisation’s gender pay gap. The government has introduced some legislation that has been designed to combat this, for example, requiring large organisations to publish gender pay gap information and the introduction of shared parental leave. 

“However, there is still a long way to go. A recent BBC article stated that 74 percent of companies that had reported had a pay gap that favours men. It is clear that closing the gender pay gap is not going to happen quickly”. Asesh Sarkar, CEO and co-founder at Salary Finance, commented on the findings: “While there are many positives to be taken from our research, it also shows that we still have a way to go. “Putting processes in place to help female employees feel cared for and respected at work, as well as giving them fair and equal opportunities to their male counterparts, makes them happier (and more productive), so businesses of all sizes should look at how they can enable and support the women in their workplace, to help them thrive even further”.

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