It’s fantastic that International Women’s Day (IWD) is still being celebrated. It started in Europe in 1911, before WW1, to recognise women’s rights. Something that was particularly needed at that time. That great initiative has now developed into a global day, to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also making a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
It’s strange to think that in 2020 gender inequality, particularly in the workplace, is still prominent. A study by McKinsey in 2019 found that 87% of companies are now committed to gender equality compared to 56% in 2012. So, clearly great steps have been taken but I can’t help thinking about why 100% of companies aren’t committed.
All businesses should have gender equality high on their agenda and reviewing their pay gap reports it a great starting point. It’s something we’ve been working on and I’m proud to say we’ve made significant strides in closing our gender pay gap. Based on April 2019 figures our pay gap between men and women is 1.7% compared to 13.5% in 2017. That’s because we pay for the job not the person, and we benchmark this regularly to ensure we’re paying correctly. Additionally, we’ve also encouraged more women into senior roles. Women now represent 57% of our leadership team and 47% of all management.
We’re in a good place, but we want to improve further and close the gap completely. So how can we do this?
Firstly, we need to fix the ‘broken rung’ which for us – and other companies with a trade function – is getting women into trade roles. We’re delighted to have 15 women in trade management roles (29%) already who are doing a brilliant job. But we have a large repairs workforce of over 300 people and 98% are men. We’ve now set a target to employ 9% more females into trade roles by 2023. To encourage more women to consider these roles we’re working in partnership with Highbury College to provide students with ‘on the job’ training through work experience and our apprenticeship schemes.
Secondly, we deem it important to cultivate home grown talent and ensure all promising staff can succeed at VIVID. That’s why we’ve launched an internal talent development programme called Optimise. We’re currently selecting candidates to complete this programme which will include a Level 3 apprenticeship in either a specialist or management discipline. It’s really encouraging that 68% of those who got through to the final stage were female!
Finally, having a flexible working environment is paramount to gender equality to balance out home and work responsibilities. We’re on the flexible working journey. The majority of ‘office based’ work can be done anywhere – home, offices, ‘drop down’ spaces in hotels providing we meet customer needs. This flexible approach with much part-time working has meant the majority of women returning from maternity leave in 2018 and 2019 were able to reduce their hours to get the work/life balance they needed. And, we offer generous paternity pay making it possible for all men to spend time with their new family.
So, I hope IWD continues to shine a spotlight on equality and diversity socially and in the workplace. It shouldn’t be just a women’s day – it’s about everyone valuing equal opportunities and pay, respecting what each person has to offer and celebrating that.
I hope IWD continues to shine a spotlight on equality and diversity socially and in the workplace. It shouldn’t be just a women’s day – it’s about everyone valuing equal opportunities and pay, respecting what each person has to offer and celebrating that.