How many UK employers are discriminating against women?

How many UK employers are discriminating against women?

On Friday 8 March 2019, the world is celebrating International Women’s Day, a time to highlight how a more gender-balanced world is a better one and take action for equality

A large part of celebrating International Women’s Day is considering women in the workplace: how they are treated and how their situation is different now than it was ten years ago.

According to Money Guru, 70 percent of employers feel that women should declare if they are pregnant during a recruitment process. One in seven employers went further to admit they would be reluctant to hire a woman who may go on to have children.

The research shows 39 percent of young mothers have been asked during a recruitment process about how their being a parent would impact their ability to work, a question that is illegal. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of employers think women should have worked for the company for at least a year before having children.

This said, some businesses are being celebrated for the leaps and bounds they are making in support of women’s professional lives.

Big Four firm Deloitte made the top ten for paternity and shared parental leave, showing they are fully in support of both parents working together to bring up children.

Top 10 companies for maternity leave

  1. Accenture
  2. Transport For London
  3. M&G
  4. Etsy
  5. Aviva
  6. UKFast
  7. Vodafone
  8. Netflix
  9. Microsoft
  10. Civil Service

Top 10 companies for paternity leave

  1. American Express
  2. Lenovo
  3. Spotify
  4. Etsy
  5. Twitter
  6. IBM
  7. Netflix
  8. Deloitte
  9. Lyft
  10. Pinterest

Top 10 companies for Shared Parental Leave

  1. American Express
  2. Barclays Bank
  3. Crown Prosecution Service
  4. Deloitte
  5. Independent Living Fund Scotland
  6. Intellectual Property Office
  7. Lloyds Banking Group
  8. Pinsent Motors
  9. Royal Bank of Scotland
  10. Southdown Housing

While many businesses are taking steps in the right direction, it’s important to remember that changing attitudes takes time. Altering attitudes towards women in the workplace and ingraining this in the company culture will slowly change all employees’ minds so fewer and fewer individuals find themselves the culprit or the victim of sexist comments or actions in the workplace.

There is still work to do. At present, the gender investment gap shows women are 67 percent worse off than men at retirement, assuming a typical 20 year period.

Further research suggests some reasons as to why this is, including the fact women really need a larger pension than they currently get. The current state pension payout is £125.98 a week for women and £153.86 a week for men.

Women also tend to take many more unpaid career breaks than men to care for children or other family members. The research further shows that from April 2017 to November 2018, 34 percent of women were not earning because they were caring while this figure was only 6.9 percent of men.

Finally there is the gender pay gap, which is currently at 8.6 percent and means women tend to earn less over their lifetime so are also more likely to pay less into their pensions and savings.

Interestingly, a YouGov poll reveals only 28 percent of women feel comfortable in investing, though a much higher percentage realise its importance. Perceptions and stereotypes mean women often don’t think they would be suited to investing.

An investigation by Britainthinks showed investing is a much more male-dominated activity, using words like “masculine”, “untrustworthy”, “unwelcoming”, and “vague”.

Continuing to celebrate International Women’s Day is partly about supporting women to do whatever they want with their lives, including with their careers. Accountancy has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, especially at the top, but this is changing quickly with the onset of flexible working which allows both parents to manage the bringing up of their children and not necessarily have to stop working for a long length of time.

It is also about recognising there is still a long way to go. Everyone in workplaces must support the quashing of sexism in professional environments and beyond. And celebrating women excelling in their careers is about celebrating the success of all women around the world, including LGBTQ+ women, women of colour, disabled women, and women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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