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The Importance of Engaging Men on Gender Equality in Scotland

Men have a critical role to play across Scotland as we continue to work to achieve equality and diversity in our workplaces. However, in many workplaces, men remain an untapped resource in many gender initiatives and their views are not sought or widely known.

To address this information gap, GenAnalytics is launching the first ever male attitudes survey on gender equality in Scotland. We are asking men at all levels and across all sectors of our economy to give ten minutes of their time to share their views via our short online survey.

By having a more detailed understanding of what men think about gender equality and programmes within their own organisation we can use this information to develop a more balanced picture of gender issues across workplaces in Scotland.

You can access the survey here. Male Attitudes Survey

We would also be grateful if you could circulate the survey to any other male colleagues or friends who would also be willing to share their views.

All responses are anonymous and the survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.

By working together and understanding all views and opinions we can achieve gender equality in the workforce and benefit our economy.

Thank You.

GenAnalytics Ltd

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Why We Need to Change the Equality Conversation across UK Plc

Earlier this month a group of business leaders gathered in Edinburgh to hear from Thorhild Widney, one of Norway’s foremost and experienced politicians. The leadership event was hosted by FWB Park Brown and supported by Ernst & Young LLP.

In a lengthy international career, Thorhild’s portfolio has included Minister for Petroleum and Energy, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Culture and Minister for Fisheries. Experience now applied within the international renewable and energy sectors at Board and NXD level.

The discussion was wide ranging, covering the breadth of Thornhild’s ministerial and non-executive portfolio and the interests of those attending. We discussed Norwegian politics, the economic impact of social and progressive labour programmes, international energy politics and the governance and leadership issues within large and complex listed companies.

The audience, a mix of corporate lawyers, financier, academics, CEOs, FDs and senior industry leaders gained insights into the relationship between government, the Norwegian economy and business practice, learning lessons for Scotland and their own organisations in the international context and from the extensive experience of the speaker.

Overriding themes that emerged crossed business, politics and society and included the need for transparency in decision making and in action, the key role for business in changing working practices and the need for a framework of legislation that can act as triggers to change business and society behaviours. The homogeneity of many Boards and the issues this creates in terms of “group think” and corporate governance was also highlighted.

The audience experienced a masterclass in both big “P” and small “p” politics at a national and business level, they learned how to succeed in business through strategic and personal career planning and how to balance successful international assignments with family commitments.

It was an inspirational event, and one that demonstrated the nature of the national business and equality conversation that many women want to have at a Board and senior level across the UK. If it can be done in Norway, then why not here?

Dr Lesley Sawers
Executive Chair

GenAnalytics Ltd

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Disability in the Workplace – Guest Blog by Gill Low, MacRoberts

MacRoberts’ Senior Marketing Manager Gill Low shares her insights into working with a disability.

I don’t think of myself as disabled. Maybe because I wasn’t classed as such until I was 32. Leading up to this point I had lived through 10 years of varying degrees of hearing loss but by the age of 32 I was diagnosed profoundly deaf – with no hope of ever regaining any natural hearing.

Nobody knows why I lost my hearing. I like to think it has nothing to do with my love of clubbing throughout my teenage years at the ‘unders’ in Glasgow. Who knows, it might have been? During my 20s I had hundreds of tests carried out on me but nothing came back conclusive.

The reason doesn’t matter to me, knowing the cause isn’t going to bring it back. What mattered to me then – and still does to this day – is leading a ’normal’ life. I was determined not to be defined by my disability. I refused to learn to sign and instead just carried on. I taught myself how to lip read and starting campaigning for a cochlear implant.

My hearing loss started when I was in the last few months of an intense 12-month Masters in Marketing at Leeds University Business School. One day I couldn’t hear the lecturer as well as I could the day before. After an emergency appointment with a consultant and a MRI scan to rule out a brain tumour, years of fluctuating hearing followed.

My hearing loss changed considerably throughout my 20s, going through periods of nearly normal hearing for 3 months then dropping the next day to almost nothing, then coming back a few months later. I’ll never forget standing in a travel agents in Sydney handing over the second half of a world trip (to Fiji, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina) in exchange for a one way ticket home to Glasgow. My hearing had dropped so badly – my once in a lifetime trip was impossible to continue.

From the age of 22 to 33 I followed my career in marketing whilst struggling to hear anything. I won’t lie – I believe my career would have gone further in my 20s if I still had the hearing I grew up with, but I still managed to progress a little thanks to some great understanding employers.

Deafness can be an invisible disability and deafness can irritate people, especially if you require something to be repeated constantly. On the odd occasion I could tell I was annoying colleagues but the vast majority were encouraging, supportive and understanding. If I needed special equipment for meetings, then that was organised. If I couldn’t hear on the phone, that was fine – I was given other tasks to do. If I was having a ‘bad hearing day’, then I wasn’t required in meetings.

My confidence at times was shattered. There were dark days when I just wanted to go home and hide. There were days I wondered how different my life might have been if I hadn’t lost my ability to hear. Thankfully they were few and far between. I am incredibly lucky to be graced with a very loving family and an amazing group of friends who never allowed me to feel sorry for myself. I didn’t need to anyway, because thanks to them I was still, for the majority of the time, leading a very happy fulfilling life with an ok career.

Life changed again in May 2010 when I was put forward for a cochlear implant. My expectations were not high but I knew anything would be an improvement from what I currently had. The results were hard to take in. Within three months of turning the implant on it was allowing me to hear almost 80% in my right ear.

Whilst my hearing is nowhere near ‘normal’ and I still have limitations, for the first time in ten years I could hear birds sing and planes fly overhead. I also rediscovered my love of music – pre-implant I had no knowledge of music released between 2000 and 2010 (turns out I didn’t miss much).

My new implant gave me the confidence to apply for the job of Marketing Manager at MacRoberts in 2012. In the four and half years I have worked here, I have become a mum, received my second cochlear implant and been promoted.

The level of patience, understanding and encouragement I received from MacRoberts (as well as my past employers) can never be underestimated. Whether it has been sourcing the right phone for me, making sure I can hear in meetings with the right equipment and having time off for appointments and surgery, they have been there – supporting and encouraging me.

Managing the PR for the firm, my typical day involves calling and meeting journalists, attending events, networking, reviewing sponsorship proposals, presenting strategies and plans and working closely with the marketing team and partners. It’s busy and it’s stressful at times but I am so grateful I can do it all without worrying what I can and can’t hear.

Unfortunately it would appear I have been somewhat lucky in my experiences at work. A recent survey by the Scottish Council of Deafness reported that 74% of deaf people in Scotland said they were prevented from progressing at work because of their deafness. Research also shows that the biggest barrier at work for deaf people is lack of understanding by employers of their communication needs, with a shocking 60% looking for another job because of their treatment at work.

There are 57,000 people in Scotland with severe or profound hearing loss – so it is glaringly obvious that these statistics need to change. Awareness of deaf people’s needs has to be brought to the forefront of employers’ minds. It is why the work of Genanalytics and The Diversity Awards – which celebrates employers who embrace diversity – is so important.

Gill Low is Senior Marketing Manager at MacRoberts. MacRoberts are delighted to be sponsoring The Diversity Awards in association with The Herald and GenAnalytics.

For further information on The Diversity Awards, follow the links below.

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Why Female Vital Statistics Matter

This Autumn a whole new meaning will be given to the term “vital statistics”.

Why? Because, pay and bonus gap reporting will become mandatory for over 8,000 businesses across the UK. From October, women employed in larger companies will be able to see pay rates, differences in earnings and bonus payments in their own organisations and in other companies.

At a national level, the differences in male and female earnings is well documented. We already know that for everyone pound a man earns, a woman earns 85 pence. Or put another way, on average a woman works for free for two months of the year compared to a man. Within Scotland, the gender pay gap averages 17% but can be as high as 40% in the legal and professional services sector and 23% in the construction industry. Soon we will be able to see exactly where and in which companies these differences arise.

Whilst the introduction of national pay gap measures is a welcome development, we still have some way to go to ensure full transparency on workplace information on diversity across many sectors and organisations. Given the slow pace of change in many areas such as flexible working, affordable childcare, skills and training, and boardroom appointments it is clear that women cannot wait for “things” to get better and for societal attitudes to change of their own accord. My own personal belief that we could achieve workplace equality through the natural progression of younger generations and without the need for Government policy or legislative intervention has long faded.

In fact, evidence shows that societal attitudes and behaviours can take up to 20 years to shift, at least one generation or sometimes longer. A recent study by Kramer and Harris showed that millennial men (i.e. those aged between 16 and 36 years old) are just as “sexist” (their words) as their fathers’ generation. Many of the male participants in this study believed their careers should take precedence over their partners, and two thirds held the view that their wives or partners should deal with childcare. Another US based study, conducted by Pew Research, also worryingly highlighted that the majority of young males interviewed believed that gender equality had been achieved in the workplace and there was no need for further policy changes at a national level. Both studies suggest that if something isn’t done soon to change millennial male attitudes this could have serious consequences for the advancement of women to senior positions in the future.

My own Review* conducted on behalf of the UK Government Scotland Office and published last year, identified the need for more measures on gender equality as one of its Key Recommendations. It also called for the development of a national framework or plan to assess progress and the impact not just of Government policy but also of company actions. The development of a “National Gender Workplace Plan” for Scotland, involving business, government, third sector, public sector and key stakeholder groups would ensure we combined our resources, expertise and energy against an agreed set of goals and measures. This would help increase the pace of change and the overcoming of inertia in key areas. Importantly, it would also identify the KPI’s or business performance measures that would deliver greatest value to the economy, to women and their families and to society.

We still have some way to go in agreeing a national set of gender performance measures that we can all sign up to, and over one year on there is no “Gender Workplace Plan” or collective strategy that businesses and organisations can work together to deliver. And we still lack a set of uniform equalities measures across the public and private sectors that link to economic and business performance. On the upside, the move towards mandatory pay gap reporting will at least ensure transparency of pay data. Once published the hope is that pressure from employees, customers, shareholders, stakeholders and from women themselves will force companies to take action. As Drucker famously said, “What gets measured, gets done” pay gap reporting is one set of vital statistics that soon we can all share.

Dr Lesley Sawers

Executive Chair

GenAnalytics Ltd

*“The Role and Contribution of Women to the Scottish Economy” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-role-and-contribution-of-women-in-the-scottish-economy

(version of this article first published in BWS Magazine July/August 2016)

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Closing the Gap and Achieving Equality

In the mid 1980’s I undertook a PhD study that examined the role and impact of technology on the retail sector. Difficult to imagine now, but for those of us old enough to remember, that was in the early days of bar codes and the use of scanning systems at checkouts. PC’s worked on DOS and iPads, macs and iPhones were still a vision waiting to become reality. Mobile phones didn’t exist and online shopping wasn’t even dreamt of.

My work examined how skills and employment patterns of female workers could be impacted within the UK supermarket sector. It tested the hypothesis that the growth of technology could lead to upskilling, greater job satisfaction, higher earnings and enhanced career opportunities for women. My belief was that technology would also improve productivity and business performance and enhance the customer experience. A win-win-win scenario for women, technology and business.

Fast forward thirty years, today technology has advanced beyond even what leading futurologists where predicting at that time. Service and retail employment has continued to grow, business performance and management information and reporting systems have improved, technology is now embedded in not only how we do business and how we shop but also in how we interact and communicate with each other. The speed and growth of technology and its application has been phenomenal.

Last year, I undertook an independent Review  into the “Role and Contribution of Women to the Scottish Economy” and revisited many of my earlier predictions. The evidence was staggering. The benefits and advancements that seemed so obvious had not manifested themselves in improvements in earnings, increased skills or enhanced career opportunities for many working women, particularly those working in the retail and service sectors. A sector that still remains dominated by low pay, low skills, part time working and a lack of women in management and senior roles. But even more disappointing was the fact that women across many other industry sectors, including those in self-employment, have faired equally badly in this period and have not achieved the career and earnings benefits predicted to accompany technology growth.

Specifically, looking at data from the mid 1990’s, the gap between men’s and women’s earnings has remained relatively consistent at around £100 (ONS 2015) and the Fawcett Society estimate that women still make up the majority of those in low paid work, 63% of people earning £7 per hour or less. Evidence also shows that for every £1 a man takes home, a woman takes home 85p, this equates to women working for free for two months of the year compared to a man. This gap in earnings becomes even more pronounced when women have children and get older. Within Scotland, the gender pay gap averages at 17% but can be as high as 40% in the Legal and Professional Services sector and 23% in the Construction industry.

And gender also impacts those in self-employment. In terms of business start-ups, if women set up businesses in Scotland as the same rate as men this would add £13 billion to the Scottish economy or the equivalent of over 100,000 new businesses.

The reasons for these gaps include a heady cocktail of social, economic and cultural factors including; flexible working, access to affordable child care, educational and skills levels, the size of companies where many women work and access to finance for many female business start-ups.

Closing the pay gap will go some way to addressing the structural inequalities that many women face in the workplace. Under new Pay Gap legislation announced by the UK Government in February 2016, companies and voluntary organisations with over 250 employees (approximately 8,000 across the UK) will now be required to publish pay gap information on their web sites, showing the number of men and women in each pay range.

But to achieve full workplace equality and to ensure women compete on an even playing field in the workplace we need to also take action to ensure we broaden the skills base and career choices particularly for younger women, encourage and support the introduction of flexible working policies and the equal sharing of family responsibilities. In addition, we need to recognise and value the contribution of women’s work to the economy, home and society.

Today, more than at any other point over this thirty-year period I feel optimistic about the future for generations of women. Driven by a change in attitudes, cultures and behaviours and supported by legislative and policy measures as a society we now recognise that we need to address many deep rooted barriers that impact women in education, at work, in the home and running their own businesses. Do I think the next thirty years will see progress on all these fronts and the fair sharing of the benefits that technology can bring, absolutely. Do I think women of all ages, all skill levels, across all sectors and in every region of the UK will finally work, live, and contribute to a fairer and equal society? A resounding yes. But it will need a continued focus and drive from us all to achieve it.

Dr Lesley Sawers

Executive Chair

GenAnalytics