Evidence continues to prove that diversity in the workplace is good for bottom line business performance, talent attraction and talent retention.
However, despite the evidence, the pace of change to achieving equality is stubbornly slow. Across the UK the pay gap remains 18% yet in some sectors this is as high as 40%. Women continue to dominate sectors where work is low paid and low skilled. Women are underrepresented in growing sectors including ICT. And, in sectors where women have better representation there are not enough women in senior leadership positions.
Achieving gender equality will need focus and efforts by government, the private and public sector and individuals – there is no quick and easy solution.
Men have a major role to play in ensuring women have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and potential in the workplace. 99% of companies employing 250 people or more in Scotland are run by men. No Scottish companies who are listed in the FTSE 100 are run by women.
Yet men are often overlooked in terms of their importance to achieving equality and their views are not sought or known.
At GenAnalytics we have recognised the importance of men on this key economic issue and the valuable role they can play in identifying the challenges and solutions to solving this.
That is why we have undertaken the first male attitudes survey on gender equality in Scotland through a range of quantitative and qualitative analysis and the results are insightful.
73% of our respondents believed that we had not achieved gender equality in the workplace in Scotland.
When we asked men to consider if gender equality had been achieved in their industry sector 64% did not consider that it had.
However, despite a perceived lack of progress at industry and national level 79% believed that both women and men were treated equally within their workplace.
Our research and analysis aimed to gain more detailed insights into individual views and when we asked what the barriers were to achieving equality the following quotes represented some of the views received:
“Male Bias at boardroom level”
“Unconscious and conscious bias in Senior Management”
“Ignoring the problem”
“The Old Boys Network”
“People hire people like themselves so status quo is hard to shift”
“Perception that women lose interest after giving birth”
“Structural sexism in wider society and economy is reproduced in the workplace”
Importance of Equality to Future Business Success
Despite a lack of progress and barriers to achieving equality an overwhelming majority of our respondents recognised that this was vital to the future success of their industry.
So we can safely assume from our research so far that there has been a lack of progress yet there is recognition that gender equality is important to a business’s future success.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
As we mentioned at the start of this analysis, the pace of change is still slow and Governments in Scotland and the UK are recognising the power of legislation to drive through change at a faster rate.
This year, all companies employing 250 staff are more will be required to publish gender pay gap information. This will deliver a step change in focusing companies to consider their pay gap and the reasons for it.
Just under a majority of respondents welcomed this legislation believing that additional transparency will reduce inequality. However, we can see from our results that with just under 35% unaware of the legislation there is still work to be done to raise the profile of this new law.
Views on Gender Quotas
We explored the views of me on legislation to support greater gender equality by asking if they supported quotas for women on public and private boards.
Just over half of men surveyed did not support the introduction of quotas on public boards.
In addition, a higher majority – 53% – did not support quotas on private boards.
These results are insightful given the focus at a Scottish Government level to achieve a 50:50 gender balance on all public boards by 2020 and an aspiration to increase women on FTSE Boards over the next few years
Our survey also sought to understand male views to caring responsibilities and family friendly policies within their place of employment.
70% of respondents work for an organisation that promotes shared parental leave and encouragingly 55% of men surveyed stated that they would consider using shared parental leave for their own family circumstances.
Family Friendly Policies
An overwhelming majority of men believed that more family friendly policies will improve gender equality. However, with current low levels of uptake by men on shared parental leave we know there is work still to be done.
To shift the needle and begin to make real progress in achieving gender equality in the workplace we must engage men at all levels and understand their views.
Men across Scotland recognise the importance of diversity for the ongoing success of the industry that they work in and in their own organisations.
However, they are less likely to support legislation and quotas to achieve change. Given the direction of travel in Scotland and the UK to develop and implement legislation to focus the spot light on gender equality and drive change we need to ensure that we continue to talk about the benefits of diversity.
As we have seen regularly in the last few weeks there are still so many misconceptions about women’s work versus men’s work.
There is also an aspiration for men to use shared parental leave for their own family circumstances yet we know what take up of these policies by men remains stubbornly low.
Achieving gender equality in the workplace is not just the right thing to do. It is imperative for economic growth and the future success of our companies and industries.
There is still a long journey ahead of us but at GenAnalytics we are engaging, talking and working with organisations who want to achieve a diverse balance in their workplace – because they recognise it is the smart thing to do.
(This survey was conducted by GenAnalytics in Spring 2017. Respondents were drawn from the public and private sectors and were at all different stages in their careers)