WISE urges STEM employers to keep gender balance on their agenda

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gender balance, gender pay gap,

WISE, the campaign for greater gender balance in the workplace, has urged employers to keep inclusion on their agenda in these difficult times

The advice follows the government’s decision to suspend this year’s gender pay gap reporting.

The organisation is also advising employers to consider carefully the difficult decisions that they are currently taking in terms of layoffs, recruitment, secondments and promotion, asking them to think about the capability needed in the future as well as the skills and experience needed today.

WISE is also asking employers to share their experience of working from home, highlighting the potential it has to transform lives.

Since 2014, the organisation has been encouraging employers to offer flexible working as part of their industry-led Ten Steps programme to improve gender balance in STEM.

In crisis, we need rapid and creative solutions

Helen Wollaston, WISE’s chief executive said: “There is plenty of evidence to prove that diversity of thought fuels innovation.

“In the crisis we now face, we need rapid and creative solutions to help us through, let’s seize the opportunity to draw on the talents of everyone in our organisations, men and women in partnership, bringing our unique and diverse contributions. Not only will this help us all in the short term, but it will also make a profound and lasting difference for generations to come.”

Wollaston added: “Whilst I fully understand the need to remove regulatory burdens on business at this time of crisis, the underlying causes of the gender pay gap won’t go away.

“We need to keep our eye on the ball in order to avoid losing ground that has been so hard-won in terms of giving women genuine equality of opportunity in the workplace. Indeed, Fawcett Society research found that after the 2008 recession, the gender pay gap increased.”

It isn’t all doom and gloom

Wollaston concluded: “The lockdown has forced organisations to adopt home working, sweeping away the old objections which have prevented women and others with caring responsibilities from making the most of their potential at work.

“If we capture the learning of how we are keeping things going whilst so many of us are working from home, it could transform the world of work for the benefit of all.

“In the current unprecedented crisis, those with the least power, privilege and money are the most vulnerable.

“In our gendered labour market, it is often women who risk losing their job, put their health at risk, shoulder the burden of caring responsibilities and slip through nets of provisions put in place by the government. If we allow this to happen, the human and societal cost will be significant and have a long-term negative impact on us all.”

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