Gender equality: Five issues you might have overlooked

HR teams may have taken steps to deter sex discrimination in their organisation. However, there may be some less obvious issues that have an impact on gender equality that they may not have thought about.

The new XpertHR good practice guide on gender explores the issues that can make it difficult for women to obtain a job, climb the career ladder and retain their job, some of which may come as a surprise to employers.

Here are five ways businesses can support women and create a more inclusive workplace:

1. Support for employees experiencing domestic abuse Domestic violence can have a negative impact on the victim’s work. The Equality and Human Rights Commission reports that domestic abuse costs UK business over £2.7 billion per year and that 2% of employed women lose their job as a direct result of domestic abuse. Employers can support employees experiencing domestic violence by establishing a domestic abuse policy and helping managers to address the problem where it is having an impact on the workplace.

2. Support for employees experiencing the menopause Many women experiencing the menopause have symptoms they find difficult to deal with and working conditions can exacerbate symptoms. Employers can take small steps to make working conditions easier for employees experiencing the menopause, helping them to remain productive.

3. Positive action One of the key barriers to achieving gender diversity is the scarcity of women in some occupations and in senior management positions across the working world. The Equality Act 2010 permits employers to take positive action in certain circumstances. For example, where women are under-represented in senior roles in an organisation, the employer could reserve places on management development training programmes for them.

4. Addressing a lack of confidence Evidence suggests that women can deselect themselves from senior development opportunities because of a lack of confidence and absence of senior women role models. Employers can help address confidence issues by organising events that promote women in leadership or targeted development programmes that help women enhance their assertiveness skills.

5. Maximising mentoring schemes Research has found differences in how men and women benefit from mentoring schemes, with women less likely than men to have a mentor who takes an active role in championing their career. One way of addressing this is to assess mentoring schemes.

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