“One year on: women’s equality in better place than ever before.”
Women’s equality is in a better place than ever before. A fundamental change in mind-set is still required from government and business leaders, if the last barriers are to be removed. That’s the message from Ruby McGregor-Smith, Chair of the Women’s Business Council (WBC), as they publish their ‘One Year On’ report.
In June 2013, the WBC published a number of recommendations for business and government to improve opportunities for women. Since then things have been moving in the right direction. There are more women in employment than ever before, more women running their own businesses, and 4,000 more female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subject graduates than last year.
Despite progress, the WBC is convinced that male leaders can do more. The members spoke to over 500 companies and individuals over the last year, and held discussions with male Chief Executives. It concluded that male leaders are important, as visible agents of change, to ensure women are not held back in reaching their full potential in the workplace.
Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan said,
“The Government has achieved a lot in the last year, including extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, introducing a system of shared parental leave, and announcing our support for parents of nearly 2 million children with the Tax Free Childcare scheme. This will make a huge difference to women, giving them the support they need to get back into work.
“I want all businesses and employers to play their part by driving forward the cultural change needed to ensure women can achieve their full potential. We will continue to work with the Women’s Business Council, to ensure women are supported in every stage of their career.”
Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, Chair of the Women’s Business Council and Chief Executive of Mitie said:
“We are hugely encouraged by the progress that has been made over the last year. More women than ever are in employment, the gender pay gap has closed to nearly zero for women under 40 working full time and there are more women sitting on boards than at any time.
“This is not the time to be complacent. We must address cultural attitudes in the workplace, often deeply ingrained, if we are to see true gender parity. I’m confident that with our esteemed new members joining the Council this year, and with such a dedicated board, we can make even greater progress in 2014/15 towards our fundamental goals: broadening career aspirations among girls, and maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth.”
Additional quotes from WBC Board members:
Sue Langley, CEO UK Financial Services, UK Financial Services Organisation, UK Trade & Investment:
“It’s great to see the progress the Women’s Business Council has made. There is no time for complacency, but it’s fantastic to see more women than ever before coming into the economy, moving up in their careers and starting businesses”
Nikki Yates, General Manager for GSK in the UK:
“It’s great to see the progress we’ve made through the Women’s Business Council so far and there’s more to be done – particularly in science and technology – if we want our future workforce to be as diverse as possible. I urge UK business leaders to give full attention to the WBC recommendations and the economic benefits they could deliver.”
Cilla Snowball, CBE, Group Chairman and Group CEO, AMV BBDO
“It is rewarding when recommendations translate into concrete results. We are seeing real signs of engagement, action and progress. And there is momentum and ambition for us to achieve more.”
Sue O’Brien OBE, CEO UK,Norman Broadbent:
“There is now a real momentum of business embracing our recommendations, particularly in the starting out age group. This is essential to give young girls a vision and purpose.”
John Timpson CBE, Chairman, Timpson Ltd: “Old fashioned executives don’t realise what they’re missing. Flexible working is a great way to run a business”