Mind the gap!

By Caitlin Jennings on

International Women’s Day can be an important catalyst to push the important topic of gender equivalence. Rein4ce’s Caitlin Jennings says there is still a long way to go to remove the barriers to success for everyone.

The gender pay gap is a major talking point in offices across the UK, particularly as the deadline for companies with 250 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap data approaches. One of the first businesses in the insurance sphere to report this data is Lloyd’s of London.

The most intriguing thing about the whole report is not that the gender pay gap sits at 27.7%, nor that the proportion of men in the highest paid quartile is at 66.2% and women at 33.8%. What stood out for me the most was the actions Lloyd's is implementing to ensure it has a more diverse workplace. The report said: “Inclusive hiring has been a key priority for Lloyd’s Talent Sourcing. We require all external recruitment partners, Lloyd’s hiring managers, Senior Leadership Team, and Executive Committee to attend inclusive hiring and unconscious bias training.” The fact that in 2018 there is a requirement to train those who influence recruitment and career paths in how to not let gender influence their decisions is startling.

International Women’s Day gives us the chance to reflect on progress made and to push for change in supporting women and gender equality. However, I fear little has changed if a corporation needs to implement training to ensure women are not unfairly treated in the recruitment process.

Throughout my education in primary, secondary and university, I have never felt any gender bias. However, as I now enter the “grown-up” world of work, suddenly the stark reality of my gender potentially affecting my ability to reach my maximum potential is clear.

To be told something like that as a young woman at the start of my career is devastating because it highlights that nothing has changed. Gender still plays a role in the decision-making of companies across the world and I can’t help but feel disappointed.
I do acknowledge that great changes have been made in society. Legally, you are no longer allowed to ask women during a job interview when they will have children, we have a female Prime Minister, and a woman is the CEO of Lloyd’s. 

Yet, as a society, we still face a significant gap between the salaries of men and women.

As a group, we must now ask ourselves why in 2018 there is still a disproportionate level of men in higher salaried positions.

More programmes and initiatives must be put in place to encourage and allow women into senior positions, as well as creating flexible cultures to value women’s and men’s contributions equally. We must nurture growing talent and provide processes that allow women who take time off work to start a family to pick up their career where they left it.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme #PressforProgress is so much more than a celebration of the achievements of women: it’s a call to action, a demand for recognition, and a plea for change. We all have a duty to keep society moving and to ensure progress is made. Let’s not have any more women growing up worrying that their gender will control their careers. Instead, women need to feel they are being given equal opportunity in the
workplace because of their capability to do the job.

According to the International Women’s Day website, International Women’s Day has been universally recognised since 1908, 110 years ago. Meanwhile, statistics from the World Economic Forum predict the gender gap won’t close until 2186. We cannot wait another 110 years (or worse 217 years) to achieve something as simple as equal pay for men and women. I think I speak for women everywhere when I say we are tired of accepting second best and we are done with inequality in our society.

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