On June 26th 2018, 15 Senior Executives and Thought Leaders met in London to start addressing head-on the UK’s gender diversity and inclusion challenges. The inaugural meeting of the new UK Think Tank, EDGE (Executives Driving Gender Equality), was, in the words of attendees, “powerful”, “vital” and “very timely”
The leaders spent several hours sharing information and discussing approaches in areas such as flexible working, the pay gap, parental leave and gender discrimination. The consensus was pretty clear – it’s time for action. In the words of Mark Harrison, Head of Inclusion at the University of London:
The statistics we are seeing are all too familiar. We need to stop dwelling on the problem and start focusing on the solution.
Mark Harrison, Head of Inclusion at the University of London
The statistics do indeed paint a stark picture.
- For every £1 earned by a man, a woman earns 81p.
- Women are four times more likely to give up work to care
- 67% of women aged 26-40 have encountered some form of gender discrimination.
While the EDGE members were realistic about the scale of the challenge, there was a resounding commitment to encouraging women and men to raise the volume and push for change. Asif Sadiq, Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness at EY agreed:
The onus should not fall on women to fix the issues around gender inequality. Both men and everyone in the organisation should play a part.
Asif Sadiq, Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness for EY
Closing the pay gap will empower men to take parental leave.
Sonya Veerasamy, Client Manager at EW Group
The Think Tank shared a range of practical insights and case studies to make a tangible difference. Patrick Caldwell of FundApps shared their incredible journey so far, which has seen them transform key policies and approaches across the organisation, with tangible results. They have also now replaced their maternity and paternity leave policies with a new parental leave offering whereby:
- All new parents receive 12 weeks of paid leave, regardless of gender, location, family structure or circumstances
- The leave is flexible to take at any point in the first year following the child’s birth or adoption
- All FundAppers are eligible globally with no minimum service requirements
- Unlimited paid time off for prenatal, medical or adoption appointments for both mums and dads
- Flexible options for the return to work
EDGE was created by WORK180, the international jobs network that pre-screens employers to see how well they support women’s careers. WORK180 Co-Founder Gemma Lloyd was delighted with the discussions but stressed the need to extend the conversation beyond purely gender:
Diversity is not about a single project or policy; it’s about a consistent, organisation-wide insistence on equality. At WORK180, we address intersectionality in our criteria when assessing employers. We’re also working hard to continually extend the conversation around the world. EDGE is a key part of that work and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.
Gemma Lloyd Cofounder Work180
Are you working to accelerate change in your organisation? Here are four tips from the Think Tank to help you get started:
- Start with the stats – How are you currently performing against key gender metrics such as a percentage of women in senior roles or closing the pay gap. Looking at the numbers gives you an accurate picture, helps highlight the need for change, and also gives you a benchmark for future comparison.
- Now engage – and listen to – your current people. What are their perspectives and experiences regarding your organisation and gender diversity? Your employees are an extremely important part of the process. Ask them the right questions in the right way and they will give you honest answers.
- Review and improve your recruitment advertising and careers messaging. Are you actively targeting women with the language you use and the information you share?
- Remove bias, as much as possible, from your recruitment process. This includes removing identifiers from resumes before they are screened, ensuring consistent, structured interview questions, incorporating behavioural testing, and of course, establishing gender-diverse selection panels. There are great tools to help you achieve this. For example, Applied offers an ATS which is designed to remove bias from the recruitment and application process.
See also: What does a good employer look like?
The EDGE Think Tank: Executives Driving Gender Equality (EDGE) is a newly formed leadership movement for inclusive UK workplaces. Facilitated by WORK180 Founders and Gender Equality Specialists Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva, we exist to accelerate tangible progress in gender diversity and inclusion.
If you are interested in finding out more about EDGE, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Attendees: Patrick Caldwell FundApps, Mark Harrison University of London, Sarah Williams Equality Counts, Sonya Veerasamy EW Group, Andy Babbage Applied, Laura Brown Ferrovial Agroman, Mabel Garcia Ferrovial Agroman, Gill Kirton University of London, Lucile Kamar Lendlease, Asif Sadiq EY, Stuart Moore Health Education England, Gemma Lloyd WORK180, Tamara Abu WORK180, Genna Kalish WORK180, Matthew Parsons WORK180,