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Gearing up the progress of Gender Diversity Management in the MENA States

Super international event focused on the mutual benefits of learning from each other.

by Dianah Worman

I learned a lot from taking part in the networking workshop for delegates from across the MENA Region organised by GIZ at the end of April in Cairo and was flattered to take part as an expert contributor.
The event was backed by the German government as part of the GIZ regional development programme called EconoWin. This provides an important resource. to improve the economic integration of women in Egypt, Jordan, Morrocco and Tunisia.
This programme has built partnerships with 20 companies and 4 business associations in the MENA region and 10 European/German companies in order to improve Gender Diversity Management (GDM) to win, keep and promote female talent.
In economies where women are poorly represented in the workforce in comparison with men this translates into huge economic loss. According to a study by the Mckinsey Global Institute, the equitable participation of men and women in the economy has the potential to add as much as USD 28 trillion or 26% to global GDP in 2025.

Across the MENA region the percentage of women in paid work is lower than it is in the west. Labour market data shows that youth unemployment is high here at 30% with young women disproportionately affected.
Designed to inform and stimulate discussion about why and how to progress the increased economic activity of women the workshop certainly succeeded in achieving this aim.
Meeting for the second time after the successful inaugural event hosted in Casablanca a room full of passionate game changers considered and contributed thoughts and ideas to help each participant build on the progress that had been made in their own countries. They also focused on helping to shape the development of a GDM tool by GIZ to support future progress.
The facilitated collaborative way of working took account of what had worked well and less well in the diverse environments of the countries represented.

The business case
It was clear from the conversations throughout the day that the business case was accepted as a major driver for action on the GDM agenda.
How to evidence this beyond macro level economic facts is the deeper level of evidence needed to win over organisational board level commitment. Top team engagement is essential to ensure GDM is given airtime as a core issue for attention.
It is contextually relevant information that makes top teams sit up and take notice and convince them about the need for action to introduce whatever changes are needed.
It is what helps to drive systemic change.

Attendees were at different stages of the journey in progressing GDM. All are keen to do what they could to influence and trigger further progress.
That is why sharing, networking and learning from each other was a central theme to the event. It provided an opportunity to reflect on what progress can look like and spotlight how it can be made faster.
The next event which will be hosted in Berlin. I am sure it will be as successful as the one hosted in Egypt.

Dianah Worman OBE Chartered FCIPD
Director Inclusive Talent Ltd at www.inclusivetalent.co.uk

Which aspects of financial wellbeing matter most to employees?

Claire McCartney

I am delighted to have been asked to write a feature article for Employee Benefits exploring the findings from the CIPD/Halogen’s latest Employee Outlook survey about which aspects of financial wellbeing matter most to employees.

As the CIPD’s latest extensive research into financial wellbeing suggests – all stakeholders have an important part to play in employee financial wellbeing because the potential benefits are so great. Boost financial wellbeing and we can improve performance. Improve performance and employers will have more money to invest in their employees through higher pay, better benefits, and more training and development.

Read the full article here:

Claire McCartney: What aspects of financial wellbeing matter most to employees?

Discussing the future of workplace Carers

Last month, we had the pleasure of leading an interesting discussion about workplace carers with some very engaged CIPD Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes  branch members.

We shared highlights from the recent CIPD and Westfield Health’s research looking at both employer and Carer employee perspectives on the issue.

Discussions with the group revolved around providing provisions and support suitable for a range of different employees with varying needs. Recognition was given for the need for space and permission for carers to respond in ways that best met the needs of their own circumstances.

As we discussed on the evening, there are a broad range of issues that employers can help with, including:

Fluid and flexible ways of working
Quick access to sources of quality information
Acting on opportunities to deploy carers in different areas of the business to develop their skills and afford flexibility
Supporting line managers to work with carers on practical responses to their needs and those of the business
Providing opportunities for networking and peer to peer support
Building confidence to raise issues in a comfortable environment.

The issue of working Carers is of great importance to society, the economy and to organisation’s at large. With the number of working Carers in the UK currently over 3 million and the likelihood that 3 in 5 of us will end up caring for someone in the future (George, 2001), now is the time for action. And, with Carers’ Rights Day just around the corner (November 25th) this is the perfect opportunity to let working Carers know just how much you value them.
GEORGE, M. (2001) It could be you – a report on the chances of becoming a carer. London: Carers UK.

Inspiring the future of STEM

Claire McCartney

Dianah and I had the pleasure last week of attending the enei’s half day event- ‘STEM –a roadmap to success.’ The inspiring line up of speakers emphasised in different ways the D & I imperative of the future of STEM in the UK and internationally.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK, spelt this message out with some compelling statistics from Engineering UK’s (2016) research with Warwick’s Working Futures which has found that 182,000 people with engineering skills are needed each year up to 2022 to fill current demand and if this demand was able to be filled this would create an additional £27 billion per year from 2022 to the UK economy. However, we need to double the number of graduates and apprentices entering the engineering industry – which is clearly no mean feat.

Reassuringly, progress is being made by lots of professional bodies and employers passionate about bringing about change. Some examples of these from the conference include the Careers & Enterprise Company, Aimia, Cobham, HS2, EY, Santander, National STEM Learning Centre and Network and more. All of whom are looking to strengthen the connection and fit between education and employment and spark interest in the area of STEM amongst diverse pupils throughout the UK.

The last word though on inspiration has to go to Professor Becky Parker, a professor in Physics and Director of the Institute for Research in Schools. The mission of the Institute is to let young people contribute to research not at some point in the future but now. The answer is not in a textbook and there is so much more to discover through experimentation and real research. The Institute gives pupils the opportunity to be involved in projects varying from synthetic biology to wind turbines. I have to say, I wish my Science teacher at school had been more like Professor Parker – instead my whole class was banned for a year from doing any experiments in chemistry due to one or two people misbehaving. The result of this of course meant hardly any pupils going on to study chemistry at A level and follow scientific careers.

As a parent, the conference has had the effect on me of wanting to inspire my own two young daughters around the possibilities of the STEM area and as an inclusive talent professionals, it has inspired myself and Dianah to continue to help and promote the importance of D & I to the future of STEM.

Engineering UK (2016) Engineering UK 2016 The state of engineering. London: Engineering UK.

http://www.enei.org.uk/pages/stem…-a-roadmap-to-success.html

Who cares for our workplace carers?

By Claire McCartney
The CIPD recently released research for National Carers’ Week that showed that not enough employers are thinking about or caring for their workplace carers. Almost two-fifths of organisations in this research do not have a carers’ policy and have no plans to introduce one.

As lead author of this research, supporting working carers is an issue I’m passionate about. It’s also an issue that is close to my heart because I’m acutely aware that more and more of my friends and extended family are currently grappling with caring responsibilities whilst also trying to juggle their roles at work and life is anything but easy for them.
Carers are employees with significant caring responsibilities that have a substantial impact on their working lives. These employees are responsible for the care and support of relatives or friends who are older, disabled or seriously ill who are unable to care for themselves (Carers UK).

We need to recognise that the issue of working carers is of great importance to society, the economy and to organisations in general. And it’s not an issue that is going to go away. It is set to grow in importance further as the number of working carers continues to rapidly increase. We know for instance that by 2017 the number of older people needing care is predicted to outstrip the number of adult offspring able to provide this (McNeil and Hunter 2014). That makes organisations’ and governments’responses to working carers ever more important.

The CIPD research builds on previous studies from Carers UK and Employers for Carers, suggesting employers can do more to support carers in the workplace. Carers’ policies need not be prescriptive and help to legitimise the situation of working carers. They also send a clear message to employees that the organisation will support them. It’s clear from this research that neither working carers nor employers favour a prescriptive approach so at the same time we need to think about how we can create and foster an open and inclusive culture where employees feel supported and empowered to respond to situations as they need, as far as possible.

Ultimately, organisations need to be responsive to the growing issue of workplace carers to stop the unnecessary loss of talent to corporate life and to help improve the daily lives of many UK workers who are struggling to balance their caring and work demands.

MCNEIL, C. and HUNTER, J. (2014) The generation strain: collective solutions to care in an ageing society. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

CARERS UK. (2015) Facts about carers . Policy briefing.October. London: Carers UK.

Pregnancy discrimination is pervasive – research shows

Dianah Worman

Extensive new research commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) shows worrying evidence about the extent and nature of disadvantage in the workplace related to pregnancy and maternity related discrimination across the UK (Adams, L., Winterbotham, M. et al (2016)).

Survey interviews with 3,254 mothers and 3,034 employers explore experiences and perceptions on a range of issues related to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work from maternity leave. The CIPD was pleased to contribute views and ideas to support this major study, guided by the expertise from members of its Senior Diversity Network.

Mothers responded to a combination of survey questions which included: feeling forced to leave their job; financial loss; negative impact on opportunity, status or job security; risk to or impact on health or welfare; harassment/negative comments; negative experience related to breastfeeding; negative experience related to flexible working requests, and any other negative experiences. The term negative impact on opportunity, status or job security refers to mothers’ responses to a combination of survey questions including: not being informed about promotion opportunities; being denied training opportunities; removal of duties; being treated with less respect; and threatened with dismissal or put under pressure to hand in their notice or leave.

The headline findings show a stark picture. Overall, three in four mothers (77%) said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. Around one in nine mothers (11%) reported they felt forced to leave their job. This included those being dismissed (1%); made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not (1%); or feeling treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job (9%).

One in five mothers (20%) said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer/colleagues. One in 25 mothers (4%) left their jobs because of risks not being tackled. One in ten (10%) mothers were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments. Over two thirds of mothers (68%) submitted a flexible working request and around three in four of these mothers reported that their flexible working request was approved. Around half of mothers (51%) who had their flexible working request approved said they felt it resulted in negative consequences.

Regarding employers – while the majority (84%) reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave – 27% felt pregnancy put an unreasonable cost burden on the workplace; 17% believed that pregnant women and mothers were less interested in career progression and promotion than other employees; and 7% did not think mothers returning from maternity leave were as committed as other members of their team. While the majority of employers were positive about managing most of the statutory rights relating to pregnancy and maternity (for each statutory right, more than half of employers felt it was reasonable and easy to facilitate) some employers thought particular statutory rights were unreasonable or difficult to manage.

As women make up almost half of the UK workforce (around 47%) and over 15 million women are active in the UK labour market at any time, the research findings present a bleak picture. The percentage of women who are working or actively seeking work is at its highest level on record (around 72%) and in nearly 30% of couples that are not same sex, the woman is the higher earner. Around 11 million (78%) of parents work and working parents make up around 36% of the workforce. Supporting parents to join and stay in the labour market is a priority for the Government.

While the UK has a strong framework of employment protections, including maternity rights to protect women from suffering disadvantage at work because they take time out to have a child, it is clear that more public interventions are needed to address the worrying situation the research has uncovered. The recommendations made by the EHRC to address the problems surfaced by the research have been considered by the Government which has issued its response. The Government believes that it will take coordinated action from Government, the EHRC and business – at all levels and of all sizes, as well as stakeholders to truly tackle pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination in the workplace and stamp it out for good. It is committed to working with everyone to achieve this.

Essentially other than support for a review of the tribunal fee system which has curtailed the number of discrimination cases progressed to the courts, recognition and support in principle has been given to the suggested recommendations for action with relevant caveats. The EHRC recommendations and Governments reactions to them are related to the progress of:

• leadership for change through partnership working between the EHRC, the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments and business leaders to create a joint communications campaign aimed at employers, underlining the economic benefits of unlocking and retaining the talent and experience of pregnant women and new mothers, and demonstrate creative approaches to attracting, developing and retaining women in the workforce before, during and after pregnancy.

• the feasibility of a collective commercial insurance scheme to support small and medium-sized employers to spread the cost of providing enhanced maternity pay (where they wish to do so) and cover for maternity leave.

• improving employer practice to prevent employers seeking information about women’s pregnancy, motherhood or plans to have children that could be used to discriminate unlawfully during recruitment but not by legislating further but by raising employers’ awareness of the rights of pregnant women and employers’ responsibilities towards them, including their legal obligations.

• developing interventions that enable employers to manage and make the best use of the talent and experience of pregnant women and new mothers through a programme of work that includes video case studies of good practice by employers in managing pregnancy, maternity leave and the mother’s return to work – including breastfeeding; an online toolkit aimed at small and medium-sized employers who may not have HR expertise in managing employees who are pregnant, on maternity leave or returning to work; and online guidance on discrimination and pregnancy and maternity rights aimed at individuals and employers.

• Acas working with the EHRC to raise the awareness about existing guidance on recruiting and managing pregnant women and maternity-related issues and absence, and producing training for line managers.

• easier access to information and advice for women by reviewing the availability of and women’s ease of access to employment advice services and addressing any barriers identified using existing information channels, such as health professionals, and existing mechanisms, such as MAT B1 Forms.

• improved access to comprehensive on-line site information for diverse audiences with appropriate signposting, drawing on appropriate sector expertise, so that employers and individuals can easily find out about their rights, responsibilities and good practice in relation to pregnancy and maternity in the workplace.

• improving health and safety guidance and risk assessment practices to new and expectant mothers taking into account particular industry sectors and occupational groups by working with stakeholders in these areas to improve practice and raise employers’ awareness of their health and safety obligations to pregnant women and new mothers, and awareness of existing guidance on breastfeeding.

• monitoring progress by including relevant questions about pregnancy and maternity discrimination and disadvantage in planned surveys of employers and mothers and the experiences of Acas in the cases they deal with.
Going forward, employers cannot afford to ignore the alarm bells which the research findings have set off. It shows a big gap between rhetoric and reality across the board. The findings also point to a number of employers lagging behind their progressive contemporaries who are at a serious disadvantage in retaining crucial female talent.

 

 

Adams, L., Winterbotham,M. et. al (2016) Pregnancy and Maternity-related Discrimination and Disadvantage: Experiences of Employers, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Equalities and Human Rights Commission

Adams, L., Winterbotham, M. et al (2016) Pregnancy and Maternity-related Discrimination and Disadvantage: Experiences of Mothers, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Boosting the potential of female engineering talent in corporates and start-ups

By Claire McCartney and Dianah Worman

Inclusive Talent were guest speakers at the recent Society of Women Engineers Europe Annual Conference, WE Europe: Reach Out to Reach Up, 11th-13th May, College of Architects, Madrid.

The under representation of women in business is an increasing concern particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths sector. It is triggering activity by diverse stakeholder interest groups including governments, education providers, professional bodies as well as employers themselves to find out what the issues are and what needs to be done to fix them.

We have a personal interest in enabling the progress of diverse and inclusive talent to support business performance. We were therefore delighted to be invited to run interactive workshops at the Society for Women Engineers Europe conference: Reach Out to Reach Up, in Madrid last month. The event brought together women engineers and employers to focus on maximising female engineering talent in corporates and start-ups.

Our first session, [facilitated by Dianah], explained diversity and inclusion, the business case, how behaviour causes unfair advantage and disadvantage, explored how it feels to be regarded as different from everyone else in the in-crowd, what changes can be made to progress diversity and inclusion and what can be done differently to attract and retain more women in engineering. This two part session was delivered as a lecture and highly participative group discussions designed to draw on the experiences and observations of delegates and their ideas for change that would work.

Our second session, [facilitated by Claire], focused on the important issue of developing entrepreneurial skills for success in the engineering sector. Throughout the session, delegates shared their own examples of female entrepreneurs that inspired them and talked about the skills that had made them successful. More often than not these role models were real life examples of family members or friends rather than what might be considered ‘celebrity’ entrepreneurs. We also explored how organisations themselves could become more entrepreneurial and shared examples of organisations that are successfully supporting intrapreneurs such as Microsoft, 3M and even the US State Department of eDiplomacy.

In our experience the event was a great success and created an exciting buzz in the networking sessions. We hope we helped to make a difference and look forward to contributing to future events.

For more information about this event, published in Womanthoogy, go to: http://www.womanthology.co.uk/maximising-the-potential-of-female-engineering-talent-in-corporates-and-start-ups-reaching-out-and-reaching-up-in-europe-claire-mccartney-and-dianah-worman-co-directors-of-inclusive-talent/

For more information about SWE go to: http://Societyofwomenengineers.swe.org

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