International Women’s Day is about being bold for change: being brave enough to try and make the world fully gender inclusive. A huge part of this is ensuring there is real gender equality in the workplace.
Here are 10 reasons why here in the UK we can #BeBoldForChange.
The UK has already achieved so much in this area, so we can be bold in our expectations:
1. The female employment rate is higher than ever before
The government’s latest statistics say that in December 2016, 70% of women aged 16-64 were in work: the highest female employment rate since comparable records began in 1971.
2. Women in the UK are better qualified than ever before
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has found that more women are gaining undergraduate and postgraduate degrees than ever before. Girls are also outperforming boys at both GCSE and A-Level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
3. The % of women on FTSE 100 Boards is rapidly increasing
Companies are (with some minor exceptions) owned by shareholders, and their value (‘market capitalisation’) is calculated through multiplying the number of shares a company has by its share price. The Financial Times Stock Exchange (‘FTSE’) 100 is an index of the 100 companies with the largest market capitalisation listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In 2010, the % of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies was only 12.5%. Thanks to initiatives like the 30% Club, and closer governmental monitoring, the level is now 27%. This is higher than the USA, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.
4. The gender pay gap is lower than ever
The gender pay gap is a measure that shows the difference between women’s and men’s average earnings, expressed as a % of men’s earnings. In the UK the Office of National Statistics reported that the gender pay gap for full-time employees in 2016 was 9.4%. This is still not good, but it is down from 17.4% in 1997, and looks set to decrease further because….
5. A new law will require some companies to publish gender pay gap statistics
In April 2017, new regulations are coming into effect, requiring certain employers to publish data on the gender pay gaps in their organisation. Having to publish the data will hopefully incentivise employers to make sure the pay gap keeps declining.
And research shows we can be bold in knowing the benefits:
6. Gender diversity has been repeatedly shown to be better for business
Lots of studies and surveys have shown this link. For example, a study of 89 large European companies (whose shares can be traded by the public) found that those with more women in senior management and on boards of directors had on average a more than 10% higher return on equity than those companies with the least women in leadership. (‘Equity’ is what shareholders have in the company by virtue of owning shares, and the ‘return on equity’ is a measure of shareholder profit). Other estimates suggest that the increase in returns could be as high as 47%.
7. Fully tapping into female talent in the UK could increase our GDP by 10% by 2030
Research by the Women and Work Commission estimated that raising female employment levels to the same as men’s could increase our Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) by 10% by 2030. (GDP represents the total monetary value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period, usually calculated annually. It gives a picture of the size and health of the economy.)
The estimated increase in GDP is due to the links between gender equality and more successful businesses, and the economic benefits of increasing women’s spending power by raising their income.
And as gender equality is not a reality yet, we should be bold in our demands:
8. Workplace discrimination still exists
In 2015-16, there were over 5,300 claims lodged at the Employment Tribunal about sex discrimination and over 17,000 about equal pay.
9. There is still a gender pay gap
A 9.4% gender pay gap for full time workers is 9.4% too much. And if you take into account part time workers the gap is even worse at 18%. It is not OK that on average for every £1 a man earns, a woman can expect to earn 82p.
10. The World Economic Forum says that at the current rate, global gender equality won’t be achieved until 2186.
That doesn’t even sound like a proper date. And at this rate, none of us will live to see it.
Freedom from discrimination on the ground of gender is a human right, protected under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which takes effect in UK law through the Human Rights Act. Human rights laws play an important role in the fight for gender equality.
Establishing gender equality as a normal part of workplaces in the UK is a step towards making global gender equality a reality across the world. The UK has already achieved so much in the fight for gender equality, so let’s #BeBoldForChange and make it happen.
#BeBoldForChange is the theme of International Women’s Day 2017. Learn more at www.internationalwomensday.com.
For more information:
- Take a look at our Equality resources page.
- Read our feature: 7 reasons we still need to fight for women’s rights.
- Have a look at our infographic poster: freedom from discrimination in plain English.