Being a working, studying, mum of two, an unashamed feminist, and an HR professional, I’m grateful and proud to be part of an organisation that has inclusion at the heart of its values every day.
On International Women’s Day at Ecus we are learning about gender bias and how to ‘hashtag smash it’ by taking part in Lean In’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias.
For example: maternal bias is when mothers, or pregnant women are viewed as less competent and less committed to their jobs. Research shows that maternal bias is the strongest type of gender bias and that when women admit to having children (or are even suspected to want children!) they are much less likely to be hired and if hired, are offered a lower than average salary. Ridiculous really when you think about the transferable skills gained from parenting – multi-tasking, people management, conflict resolution and crisis management, problem solving, communication, negotiation and influencing, to name but a few.
Apart from the ethical argument for addressing the challenges that women face in work, there’s a solid business case for putting gender on the agenda. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recognises that ‘When more women join the workforce, everyone benefits’, and here’s why:
Women and men bring different skills and perspectives to the workplace, and having women on teams not only improves performance, it also boosts collaboration. Studies have also shown that the financial performance of organisations improves with more gender-equal leadership teams.
However, women are twice as likely as men to leave the labour market due to caring responsibilities. We spend on average twice as much time on unpaid cooking, childcare and housework than men and this can damage our careers. We need flexibility and fair pay to keep us working.
Gender equality is also a men’s issue. WEF found that men’s wages increase as a result of greater inclusion of women in work, since productivity will increase and higher wages should help to remove barriers that hold women back from decent work.
Since joining Ecus last year I’ve seen for myself that gender is recognised as an important issue. I ran workshops on organisational culture and a topic of conversation raised by some of our men was how to recognise and challenge macroaggressions against women – heartening stuff!
We’ve recently introduced a new Flexible Working Policy that enables all employees to #FlexFrom1st and a focus of our talent development work is to ensure inclusive processes and equitable opportunities.
From a personal perspective the flexibility offered at Ecus was a big draw, and I absolutely love that I’m able do a great job (and be recognised for it!) and not feel like that compromises my parenting, or vice versa. I’m super proud of my boys, and love being a mum, but I’m also proud of and committed to Ecus and my career; win win!