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More than four in five (85%) of women and 80% of men report that they have witnessed gender-discriminatory acts at work, according to the latest research from CMI.
The Blueprint for Balance: time to fix the broken windows report, which surveyed 856 managers, found that the majority of organisations are still struggling to make a meaningful difference to achieving a gender-balanced workplace, with just 25% of respondents saying that their peers and senior leaders ‘actively and visibly champion gender initiatives’.
Worryingly, according to CMI’s new report, only 19% of junior and middle managers believe their senior leaders are committed to the target of gender balance in their organisations – this despite a recent study by management consultants McKinsey showing that the most gender-diverse businesses are 21% more likely to financially outperform their peers.
The new CMI research also found that, despite the introduction of new pay transparency reporting regulations in April 2017, only 8% of managers know the size of their organisation’s gender pay gap.
Furthermore, more than two in five (41%) claim that their organisation does not have a gender pay gap, even though CMI research has found the average difference in pay between male and female managers to be 27%.
CMI chief executive Ann Francke said that not only is correcting this gender imbalance the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense, and she urged managers to fix the ‘broken windows’ that are holding back gender equality at work.
“Achieving gender diversity is a priority business performance issue – gender-balanced companies financially far outperform their peers,” she said. “While we’re starting to see change, progress is stuttering. Employers have great intentions, but our report shows there’s still a yawning gap between the rhetoric and the reality of work for too many women.
Leaders and their managers need to fix the ‘broken windows’ – the range of everyday biased attitudes, actions and practices that make possible the bigger systemic problems that women face.”
Only then will organisations build inclusive cultures where women, other minorities, and men, can thrive.”
The CMI Blueprint for Balance report also reveals that less than a third of managers give their employers top marks for the effectiveness of flexible working, pay and rewards, and recruitment practices to promote gender diversity.
The majority (59%) also believe that their employer is failing to provide mentoring and sponsorship opportunities; and half (48%) say that their organisation’s management culture does not support gender balance.
The report features a number of case studies of employers that are making strides forward to transform their workplace to make them more inclusive. These include financial services giant UBS’s Career Comeback programme, which attracts women who have taken time out from work, helping the business tap into a wealth of talent.
[Words: Matt Scott, CMI]
1. LINE MANAGERS ARE KEY TO FIXING BROKEN WINDOWS
Line managers play a pivotal role in changing behaviour and creating balanced workplaces. Their actions are decisive in the success or failure of efforts to create balance. Yet many of the women interviewed have seen their line managers block, not champion, change.
Without progress on the reality of line management behaviours, the rhetoric of senior leaders falls flat. Managers need to learn about the behaviours and practices that make a difference. They need to be empowered to call out bias and create change, while also being held to account for their impact.
2. MAKING GENDER A BUSINESS ISSUE: THE CHALLENGE FOR LEADERS
Senior leadership as essential to achieving change. Effective leaders make gender a business issue – core to how the organisation works – not a “women’s issue” that can be sidelined.
Without vision, personal commitment, and linkage to strategic priorities, gender balance will remain out of reach. Only 19% of junior and middle managers regard their senior leaders as being committed to gender balance – and senior leaders are in fact the tier of management least likely themselves to describe gender as a priority (42%).
3. CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY: MEASURE IT, MANAGE IT
Set targets for gender balance and ensure transparency in tracking and reporting progress. Diversity and inclusion is part of performance management, tying financial rewards and consequences to behaviours and delivery of targets.
Use of metrics and targets is often lagging behind aspiration. Only 27% of managers report that their organisation has clear targets for gender balance.
4. BRINGING DIVERSITY TO LIFE: MAKING IT PERSONAL
Deep personal motives underlie the commitment of senior leaders to gender balance. For male leaders that often related to a vision of the future for their daughters.
It’s personal, genuine, relatable for other employees, and highly effective to engage others in bringing gender balance policies to life.
5. BUILDING THE BUSINESS CASE: TALENT IS THE DRIVER
The most common driver for organisations focusing on gender balance is attracting and retaining the best talent (cited by 58% of managers), at a time when employers face growing competition for skilled people.
Programmes like the UBS Career Comeback programme attract women who have taken time out of work, helping the company tap into a wealth of talent.
6. THE JOB’S NOT DONE: TACKLING SECOND GENERATION BIAS
The overt discrimination of previous generations may not have completely disappeared. But the most common challenge now is “second-generation” gender bias: behaviours flowing from basic assumptions about working life or about the qualities required to succeed in leadership, which reflect masculine values and men’s life situations.
“[Discrimination has] gone underground. Views are now more masked and only rear their heads in passive, unobvious ways.” A female managing director in a FTSE 100 financial services company
One female manager in a manufacturing company told us that “Women are still viewed as ‘admin’ in my organisation.”
And despite recent high profile gender debates in business and the media, some female managers say that gender is at risk of becoming invisible as a business priority. One female leader told us of the dismissive attitude one male senior executive when talking about gender balance in their company: “Well, don’t you think we’ve done enough?
Recommendations for Balance
Call out, challenge, change behaviours – too many “broken windows” behaviours pass unchallenged. Make 2018 the year for action. Every manager has a role to play.
Share stories – listen to the day-today experiences of women in your organisation. Share your experiences of broken windows to find the best ways of addressing them and evolve a more inclusive culture.
Match reality with rhetoric – leaders and middle managers alike need to be aligned in their behaviour to change to make sure that policies and practices deliver real change.
Make it a business issue – leaders need to make gender balance a bigger management priority. Measure it, set targets and report on progress. Empower line managers to make change, and make them accountable for their actions.
Reinforce the business case – win the argument about whether enough has been done on gender by highlighting the business case for your organisation. Use the evidence that diversity delivers results and show how gender initiatives address key business needs, like helping to attract and retain talent or improving how far leadership teams reflect your customers.
Make change personal – tap into people’s emotional connections and motivations to accelerate progress towards gender balance. Leaders should open up about their personal motivations for promoting the gender agenda, as well as making the business case.
Work with men as change agents – show how advances for women are advances for men too. Work with men to role model the behaviours needed to change cultures, like using flexible working for family reasons, to make those behaviours the norm and not the exception.