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  • Writer's pictureAmy Woolf

The Most Wonderful Day

Earlier this week Twitter exploded when Elaine Filadelfo mused over the irony that International Women’s Day lasted a full 23 hours. No, I haven’t miscalculated and yes, I do know that there are 24 hours in a day. International Women’s Day falls on 8th March, which also happens to be the day the US, Canada and some of Mexico adjust their clocks for Daylight Savings, leaving women with just one hour less to celebrate and be celebrated. The thread went on to highlight that Black History Month falls during the shortest month and International Men’s Day unsurprisingly falls on the longest day of the year… But hey, as one of the Twitterati noted 96% of the day is better than 70% of a potential salary.

The fact is, this post wouldn’t have generated so much attention if there wasn’t an issue. And in 2020 there is still this teeny tiny issue of inequality. I am astounded that we are still talking about gender equality, but given the slow pace of progress, if we stop talking about it we risk going backwards.

International Women’s Day is one of my favourite days of the year. I look forward to showering the women in my life with flowers, a gift I bestow on every woman I see on the day to my daughter’s delight! It is phenomenal moment to think of the women who made us, the women who inspire us and the women we want to inspire. Every year the theme provides an excellent talking point for my family, considering what International Women’s Day means to us. So what does Each for Equal mean to me?

I recently found myself listening to an episode of a brilliant podcast – Dolly Parton’s America – focused on her song 9-5. The song was written specifically for the movie of the same name, a movie made to expose the challenges women faced at work. To hear Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lilly Tomlin talk about their aspirations for the project and what they were trying to achieve, you could easily be mistaken to think that they were working on it today.

Of course, things have changed. Today businesses are acutely aware of their gender split thanks to the tireless work of bold leaders and exceptional inclusion experts, initiatives such as 30% Club and Hampton-Alexander Review, along with legislation making it compulsory for organisations to report their gender pay gap. Furthermore, with victories for the #metoo movement it is hard to imagine women in offices today being subject to the same discrimination that Violet or Doralee incurred. On the face of it, it is all a lot more equal. And yet. Is it?

The gender pay gaps announced this week do not paint a bright picture.

the average gender pay gap in the [financial services] sector has risen to 23.1% from 22.2% two years ago.

What is even scarier is the survey published by Morgan McKinley stating 58% of female professionals felt their gender was prohibiting them from progressing in their careers.

25% of women and 61% of men believe they are paid equally. 63% of men believed in their employer's commitment to equality, compared to 32% of women.

So where does the disparity lie and what can we do about it?

Some may be in better positions to affect change than others, but we all have a responsibility. There is no one size fits all solution, but here are 3 things that may just go in the right direction:

  1. Recruit carefully. A diverse shortlist should be just that, a combination of men and women who have the best skills for the role in question. If we choose a woman over a man simply because of her gender, we won’t be attaining equality but we will be breeding an imbalanced team.

  2. Consider your performance and reward system. How well does it account for different personalities? Do you open up salary negotiation with all employees or just some? How personal are the performance reviews?

  3. Change the narrative. I recently spoke about the need to ‘change the narrative’ as there is power in how we speak about women, and we can reverse the negativity. I firmly believe that until a female CEO is simply a CEO, we won’t achieve equality.

Equality sadly won’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for it. For now, I am concentrating on raising my children to believe they can both be anything they want to be, that no school subject belongs to a boy or a girl, and to respect all voices around them.

Oh, and I will probably do some recruiting too. If you want to have an honest discussion about recruiting a diverse talent pool, attracting a range of talents or what the market looks like – just get in touch!

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