to the point | ISSUE 175



We are beginning to see an element of fatigue on the long and frustrating journey to level the gender playing field in the workplace.

Article by Sarah Kaiser, Employee Experience, Diversity & Inclusion Lead - Fujitsu EMEIA


here are a number of barriers that

organisations need to overcome in order to level the gender playing field. In comparison to men, women are more likely to be honest and self-critical about their performance at work. This has left many experiencing a psychological phenomenon termed ‘imposter syndrome’, which is the feeling that you don’t deserve your job, despite all of your accomplishments. So much so, a study revealed that two-thirds of women admit they’ve experienced imposter syndrome at work over the past 12 months. With this in mind, organisations need to do more to encourage women to recognise their own skills, by helping to build their confidence in the workplace.

Despite the efforts made to drive gender equality at work, we shouldn’t neglect what’s going on in the outside world. The sad truth is that society still

puts the bulk of pressure on women to not only work, but to take on the majority of domestic duties. Indeed, a recent report revealed that women still undertake a disproportionate amount of unpaid labour within the home - with women spending an average of 13 hours on housework and 23 hours on caring for family members each week; the equivalent for men was eight and ten hours. In doing so, women are enabling men to put in longer hours in the workplace, which in turn is helping them to get a ‘leg up’ in their career. Because women, on the other hand, are spending a lot of time and energy on this balance, they often end up lagging in their careers.

One way to create better balance is through showing visible male role models within the workplace, and shared parental leave is a great example of this. Because as little as two percent of couples in the UK take up shared parental leave, more needs to be done to educate employees of their options, reassuring men, in particular, that they won’t be disadvantaged by taking on some of the duties usually expected of women.

As the majority of

organisations lacked diversity in the past, we need to recognise that old-fashioned biases are still built into too many organisations and jobs. Take the news that Amazon scrapped an internal recruitment tool which used artificial intelligence to sort through job applications as an example. The tool quickly taught itself to prefer male candidates over female ones, which revealed strong biases the company hadn’t even been aware of themselves. In today’s environment, more investment is needed by organisations to remove these biases, such as through role models and

champions, performance benchmarks, and unconscious bias and awareness training.

It was disappointing to read the top ten excuses for why FTSE company boards were not appointing women at board-level, including factors such as; ‘women don’t fit in’, they ‘don’t want the hassle’ and they struggle with ‘complex issues’. On the contrary, women do want it, they are as ambitious as men. However, everyday sexism - such as taking credit for women’s ideas, challenging their achievements or interrupting them mid- sentence - has resulted in many women self-selecting out of what is often an unpleasant masculine culture.

To rectify this, women’s networks can be a critical tool for providing women with peer support and advice. But, it’s down to the senior team to take the lead by championing gender parity within their organisation and showcasing female role models. At the end of the day, we need to do more to ensure balance in leadership teams. To dismantle some of those barriers, women - and diverse candidates more broadly - need to be given an equal footing. However, whilst crucial, removing barriers around inequality within the workplace should not be limited to women. If

organisations face challenges around gender equality, it is likely they also face multiple diversity issues. That means organisations need to be thinking about driving equality internally in a more holistic manner.



David Wilkinson, Group HR and Communications Director - Premier Foods


What needs to be put in place so that HR reaffirms its position in core business decision-making?

DEVELOPING LEADERS The erosion of hierarchical

frameworks, the meritocracy, collaborative working and knowledge sharing, and a culture that demands flexible and experiential career agility.


TRANSFORMATION It’s a salient reminder that once-loved brands are long gone and forgotten, because they failed to transform in time. Businesses must be mobilised to be a moving part of disruption.

EMPLOYMENT LAW During our 43 year EU membership, some 40 thousand pieces of employment legislation

were introduced, which has revolutionised the status of employment. What next?


52 | thehrdirector | MAY 2019

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