About the blog

Welcome to 3minuteleadership.org and thanks for visiting.
Over the last few years, we have been observing different forms of leadership and management and thinking about what works in today’s workplace.

Striving to be a good leader myself and create an environment where individuals can thrive, I have spent much time pondering how to help people to achieve and deliver to the best of their ability.  

Through this site, I plan to share leadership lessons in bitesize chunks of 3 minutes or less.  I hope that the blog can provide a space for likeminded people to share thoughts and ideas on leadership for the 21st Century.

By doing this, I hope that we can change the way we lead and transform the workplace, developing people that are inspired and empowered to make a difference in the world.

 

About the elephants…

I’ve chosen the elephant image because the matriarch influences the herd more than any other.  She has a quiet and confident leadership style, setting the direction and allowing others to follow.

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Featured post

Why you should take on a Trustee role and how you can make it happen

This week, 12 – 16th November 2018, is Trustees Week where we celebrate the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers who give up their time to ensure robust leadership and governance for charities across the UK.  This is also an opportunity to encourage and inspire others to get involved at this level.

What is a Trustee?

Trustees are responsible for a charity and work together to ensure financial sustainability, legal compliance and provide strategic direction. These people are often volunteers and make up a ‘Board of Trustees’ or ‘management committee’ which becomes the body for decision making in an organisation. Trustees should bring their own individual knowledge and opinions but support any decisions made as a collective.

Charities are always looking for skilled people to join their Trustee board so there are lots of opportunities to volunteer at this level.  Figures shared as part of trustees week suggest that there are roughly 196,000 charities across the UK with over a million Trustees in total.

Why do people become Trustees?

Probably the main reason for becoming a Trustee is the desire to make a difference and support a cause.  It is personally rewarding to contribute in this way and can have a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of those who volunteer and of course the beneficiaries of the organisation delivering the work. Not only that but as Reach Volunteering highlight, becoming a Trustee can be good for your career as well as your health’, supporting individuals to gain strategic experience, strengthen professional networks, learn new skills and more.

Speaking to a number of experienced trustees, it is clear that the role is challenging but rewarding at the same time…

“I was passionate about the charity sector benefiting from robust leadership, governance and strategic planning. Few voluntary sector organisations have access to trusted and impartial critical friends or expertise in particular professions so their board is a good opportunity to source those expertise. For me, it was also an opportunity to gain insight into how another voluntary organisation operates in a very different area of policy & practice so I learned a huge amount too. I strengthened my profession network and I got to volunteer my time skills and energy in the process. It made me a more rounded strategic operator and it wasn’t without its challenges so I feel it was time well spent” – Nina Prosser, Chair, Touch Trust

“I became a trustee to make a difference for a charity I cared about.  As the honorary treasurer, I was able to use my financial knowledge to help the charity resolve some of its long term financial risks. On a personal level, I learnt a lot outside of my specialism and this helped me develop on a personal and professional basis” – Alex Mannings, Honorary Treasurer, Ramblers GB (2015 – 2018)

In Wales, Empower offers a matching service, working with charities to identify what skills they need and then approaching high calibre individuals to fill these positions. Director, Bev Garside, said:

“Trustee recruitment is one of the most enjoyable parts of our role here at Empower because it provides an opportunity for real win-win partnerships.  For potential trustees, it provides an opportunity to utilise existing skills and develop new ones through a strategic non-executive directorship role within the charity sector.  For charities, there is the opportunity to benefit from highly skilled individuals bringing their specialisms and their passion to the board”.

“Trusteeship is an ideal proving ground for those wishing to move into a paid leadership position and companies benefit encouraging senior managers to seek appointments to charity boards”.

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee with an organisation in Wales, contact: bev@empowersvs.co.uk  

3minuteleadership.org.uk

[Photo: Pixabay]

5 ways to tackle the gender pay gap

If you didn’t know already, today is #EqualPayDay in Britain which means that effectively, women work the rest of the year for free given the stark difference in pay that women receive for their work.

According to figures published by the Fawcett Society, the pay gap for women working full-time is 13.7% which means women earn just £86.30 in every £100 received by men. The biggest gaps can be found in Construction (22.9%), Finance (22.3%) and Education (19.7%). And there is also a considerable difference in senior roles with women accounting for just 7% of CEOs in the top 100 companies.

Sadly, 1 in 3 people don’t realise that discriminatory pay is illegal and therefore provide no challenge to the status quo.

What causes the gender pay gap?

There are a number of factors that contribute to the pay gap between men and women with the main issue being a continuing perception of male and female roles. Research from the Welsh gender equality charity, Chwarae Teg (FairPlay), discovered that children develop their views of gender roles as early as 3 years old and these views ensure that the cycle of inequality continues despite legislation to level the playing field being introduced nearly 50 years ago. Basically, the continued view that women will look after the family ensures they earn less than men. Women might plan their whole career around this, choosing lower paid jobs such as hairdressing, childcare or admin because they think it will be more flexible when the time comes to start a family. Other women look to change later on when they know that babies are on the horizon.

What can we do to tackle the gender pay gap? Here are 5 things that would make a difference:

1) Pay transparency – large employers are now being asked to publish their pay figures so discrepancies can be identified and eliminated. The BBC for example have published their figures to reveal some shocking truths about gender pay within the corporation.

2) Family friendly policies – employers should ensure flexibility for those with caring responsibilities and support them to make a full contribution at home and at work. Many employers think they are family friendly but are just blissfully unaware of the issues for their staff. For example, many organisations have different packages for mothers and fathers when it comes to maternity or paternity rights. This can make it very difficult to take up opportunities through policies such as shared parental leave because employers often have an enhanced package for mothers but not fathers so many families feel this is not an option.

3) Challenge stereotypes – organisations should make sure they are not reinforcing stereotypes but making industries such as Construction attractive to women as well as men. Women who are in male dominated industries should do all they can to support other women in their industry and support others to join them.

4) Women’s networks – women need to support each other so either create a network of your own with people who will support and inspire you or join one that is already out there. Many industries and employers have women’s networks so look them up and get involved.

5) Ask for a pay rise – if you think you are worth more than you are being laid, let your employer know about it. Figures show that women are less likely than men to ask for a pay rise and are worse off as a result. Sure, the answer might be no but you could be pleasantly surprised!

Do you have experience of gender pay issues or examples of good practice for levelling the playing field? Let us know in the comments below.

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Women Leaders

[Guest post by Hilarie Owen]


Most organisations are aware of gender inequality and many are trying to address the issue with training programmes, coaching and trying to build a pipeline but these actions are not delivering the results quick enough. Filling the pipeline hasn’t produced the results and neither have policies. The barriers that hinder progress for women are far more complex and elusive. 

Following my webinar on women, power and leadership that was held on International Women’s Day 2018 with three great speakers I decided to explore women leaders in more depth. I interviewed women leaders across society from business, the arts, science, technology and government. I was enthralled by their autobiographical narratives. Their stories were engaging and it became clear that their leadership emerged and grew from their experiences. It quickly unfolded that there were key patterns that were central to their ability to lead that I will try and capture in my new book. One of the noticeable things was that in 30 interviews I did not find one ego. In fact these women were like you and me so we can’t say ‘Ah, but they are different’.

Each woman, regardless of their background or education, had common elements they had developed. It wasn’t as simple as qualities, as important as these are, but constructs they had combined to form their leadership – a different form of leadership to the older male version.

I’ve been immersed in what makes great leaders for the last 20 years, helping to inspire high performance in top teams around the world, including my research with the RAF’s Red Arrows. Women are doing amazing things in business, the military, politics, sports and the arts. Yet the number of occupying senior posts is falling.  Globally, while women are receiving higher education gender parity is shifting backwards for the first time since 2006, according to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report and what stands out is that although women across the world are highly educated the workplace is still not give them parity.

In the UK, more women are joining boards as Non-Executive Directors but this has become more of a tick box exercise as the numbers of full time women directors remain static. According to a report from Grant Thornton in 2017, the number of women coming through into senior management posts is actually declining. How can this possibly be? Surely we already have the policies and procedures we need in place. The solution isn’t to ‘fix women’ but to fix the barriers in organisations. So the book not only focuses on women leaders but how to enable organisations to be far more inclusive. The book will be launched in the Spring but people can pre-order copies now by going to:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/614479735/welead-women-leaders-and-inclusive-organisations?ref=project_build
So far, I have written eight books on leadership that sell around the world opening up opportunities to work in different countries. Everywhere I meet inspiring women who are doing amazing work and campaigning for more opportunities for women.  My aim is quite clear. One day when someone asks women ‘what do you do? The answer will be ‘weLEAD’.

 

© Hilarie Owen  hilarie.owen@iofl.org

3minuteleadership.org

Why I think becoming a mum will enhance my leadership skills

Obviously having a baby is a huge event which changes your life forever but aside from the insane personal benefits, I’m convinced that there are professional advantages as well.  Of course there will be challenges to overcome around balancing work and family life which should not be under estimated but even this, once accepted, can help to develop a number of management and leadership skills.

A few years ago, I was doing some coaching with someone looking to take the first step into management and I encouraged her to consider how she would usually get her children to do things they don’t want to do.  At first, she couldn’t see what I was getting at but when she started talking me through, she could see how the techniques she used with her children could be adapted and used in the workplace.  Things like explaining the problem, what needs to change and how they are going to do that; making the children realise that this needs to happen quickly; checking their understanding of the situation; empowering them to take an active role in the process; and praising them when things go well all fit within Kotter’s 8 step process of successful change.

There are lots of other aspects of leadership that I believe will be strengthened too.  Here are just 5 things I think will be different when I get back:

1)      I’ll be a better role model – I know I’m already a role model within the organisation and in the industry, however, at the minute it’s a responsibility that I take seriously but maybe don’t demonstrate at all times in the way that I should.  From the second my baby is born, I can never be off duty, instead, I will be constantly be aware of how my behaviour impacts on those around me and the responsibility I have to live within my values at all times.

2)      My organisational skills will be second to none – my colleagues perceive me to already be very organised but whilst at the minute, I can add appointments into my calendar and make sure I’ve got the right paperwork, I manage to hide my inner chaos beneath a professional façade.  Once there’s a baby in the mix, I won’t be able to leave anything to chance.  Already, I’m making sure we’ve stocked up on essentials at home and all manner of bags are packed, ready for a multitude of eventualities.  In a blog published by Motherly on what new mothers want everyone in the office to know, they put it like this: ‘I now prioritise like nobody’s business, I will prove to be more efficient than anyone else in the team’.  If you thought I was efficient before, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

3)      I’ll bring increased compassion & understanding – the Motherly article puts it as being able to ‘anticipate the needs of others’ which is certainly an aspect but there’s more.  I’ll understand pregnancy and maternity in a way that you can only if you’ve been through it and whilst I already make sure my staff prioritise the school play, swimming gala or sports day, I’ll understand even more why that matters.  I also think I’ll be even more kind and compassionate, noticing the subtle signs that tell me someone is not ok.

4)      I’ll be so much more resilient – I’ve kept going throughout this pregnancy, walking the dog twice a day, every day; flying to give a presentation at 35 weeks; ad making the most of the pregnancy insomnia to get ahead during a busy period – me and my baby already know resilience but I certainly am going to develop so much more!  In my Mumsnet group for August babies, I asked some of the already new and existing mums for any tips for sleep deprivation.  One mum offered two words ‘survival and endurance’.  It’s going to be tough but if I can get through this, I really can do anything.

5)      My perspective will change – over the years, I have learnt to put the challenges into perspective and try not to stress about the things that don’t matter overall.  If I haven’t mastered it already, this change will surely remind me that life is the main goal and that it is always rich in experiences, good and bad but all to be cherished and enjoyed as much as possible.

 

Do you notice any positive changes when you returned to work after having a baby?  Do you have further thoughts on my suggestions above?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

3minuteleadership.org

Why becoming a great leader is a journey not a destination

One of my favourite leadership thinkers at the minute is Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and Leaders East Last both of which you should read if you haven’t done so already.

The other week, I saw a link on Twitter to one of his videos which I watched and was reminded that ‘the best leaders don’t consider themselves to be experts; leadership is a skill which can be learned’.

This resonated with me because it is exactly the reason I am taking part in an initiative called ‘Leadership Pods’, a development programme developed by Dafydd Thomas at Circularis for people who want to be great leaders.

Being part of this encourages me to consider how I can further develop my leadership practice and allows me space to reflect on where I am now and where I would like to be in the future.  The programme also allows participants to share and learn from others who may have similar challenges or experiences.

As Sinek sets out, it is important as a leader to keep learning and commit to continuous improvement throughout your leadership journey.  It’s about supporting people and making a difference so why wouldn’t you want to work towards perfecting your craft which of course we all know does not have a final destination.

It’s like the best athlete working on their discipline; they can break new ground and set world records for their sport but there are always others who are watching them, learning from them and will ultimately take their place and set their own records.

Sinek goes so far as to say in his video: ‘any leader that considers themselves an expert… don’t trust them…. run in the other direction’.  You should definitely be suspicious of a leader who is convinced that they are always right and can’t see a reason to listen to the views or ideas of others.

In his book, Leaders Eat Last, Sinek promotes the importance within good leadership of prioritising the needs of others sometimes even putting these needs ahead of their own.  My approach certainly is to focus on supporting those in my teams, ensuring I take steps to understand their needs and considering how I can adapt my style to get the best out of them.

For example, I consider who they are and how they like to be managed.  Some people, particularly millennials, want to have autonomy; they want to be clear about what is expected of them and be given the freedom to do their best work which might involve trying out new ideas or generating new opportunities.  They expect to be able to get fully involved and don’t want to be told what to do.

Generation X and the baby boomers might prefer more specific management and direction  with greater clarity around what is expected of them and could even look for detailed instruction.  Of course people don’t always fit nicely into a box and so the only way you can understand what they need is to ask them.  I try to ask my direct reports on a regular basis if they are happy with the way they are being managed, recognising that my preferred style doesn’t work for everyone.  In circumstances where my approach is causing problems for them, I do my best to change it because ultimately, I want them to perform as well as they can and I don’t want to be the person that holds them back.

Understanding their long terms goals is also valuable because I recognise that they might not spend their whole career with one organisation and instead may wish to develop and move on to other opportunities.  In taking time to discuss this, I can ensure they are developing the necessary skills and experience to get them where they need to go.  Even if they do want to stay with us, I want that to be because they feel like they are able to develop and are invested in, whether that’s through funding for formal training or time to develop their specific interests or skills.

It’s important to recognise that they are a good measure of my own performance as a leader and I might ask them how they enjoy working with me and listen carefully to their feedback.  Also important is to recognise that they can be giving feedback through their silence or avoidance so I try to make a special effort to notice what they are not saying through body language or passing comments.

Sinek says: “We call them leader not because they are in charge but because they are willing to run head first into the unknown or dangerous.”

It’s not about status or rank, leadership is a skills that needs to be developed and perfected over time.  If you aspire to be a great leader then you might want to sign up for a Leadership Pod yourself and find out how you can unleash the power not only within yourself but in those you work with across your organisation.

Like a parent, you are not an expert parent but you keep practicing and practicing and hopefully, you’ll get it right someday.” (Simon Sinek)

 

Do you consider yourself to be a great leader? Have any thoughts or tips to share? Let us know what you think by posting in the comments below.

 

3minuteleadership.org

 

 

 

How to create an environment where your staff to lie to you (or how to make sure you don’t)

I’m going to let you into a secret… most employees want to work hard and do well.  I don’t think there are many in the workplace who would lie to you for malicious reasons.  However, the best employees might lie to you if they think this is the best course of action.

How can that be? I hear you ask.

Imagine this…

You have done an excellent job of hiring talented and highly-skilled people.  Across your organisation, there are people who bring a wide range of expertise and are committed to using this for the good of the business.  And yet you find out that they are keeping things from you or feeling the need to ‘spin’ the truth.  Your first reaction might be to think that they are stupid and incompetent.  Or you might think that they are being insolent; deliberately lying to because they think they know better than you do.  But how dare they, right?  I mean, you’re the boss for a reason and they should do what you say, yes?

The thing is, you might want to consider if there is something you have done to create an environment where, for good reasons, they think it’s better to lie to you than generate problems by telling you the truth.  The alternative to this could well be silence which is another clear indication that all is not well in the ranks.

Here are some instances where your actions might be encouraging your staff to hide the truth:

1)      When you make the job more difficult than it needs to be – they are getting on with something they know is valuable for the business and they have planned their time proportionately.  Then, you find out about it and decide it’s not the way you want it done even though your way will take a lot more time and resource that they and others should be spending on other things.  In an attempt to avoid that, they try to get the work done ‘under the radar’ because it’s easier than raising their head to get it blown off.
2)      When you take work off them because you think they have ideas above their station or think someone else could do it better – You find out a member of staff is working on something you think should be done by someone else so you tell them off an take it off them without asking any questions.  This is upsetting for them because they have worked hard on something they were interested in or felt they were good at.  If they felt that you would be encouraging and supportive, they probably would have been glad to involve you in the first place.
3)      When you dismiss something they are confident is a good idea – let’s say you have someone who has experience of delivering  certain type of activity and is confident that it’s a good idea and they can do it well.  It’s in line with organisational priorities but you want it doing a certain way, they think you are missing a trick but you won’t listen to them.  It’s understandable that they might try telling you just enough to get on with it the way they think is best.
4)      When you pull their work apart – they have identified a clear opportunity within the organisation’s objectives without any risk.  They would love to speak to you about it to ensure it’s how you want it to be and get your advice but they’ve shown you something before and you’ve ripped into it, giving criticism that is disproportionate and far from constructive.  Ultimately, you’ve knocked their confidence and destroyed their trust. They are not keen to come back for more so they keep it to themselves because they think it will allow them to get the job done more easily.
So hopefully, you’ve realised that if good people are keeping things from you, it’s worth reflecting on whether you have created an environment where they think that’s the best course of action.  In terms of what you can do about it, I’d advise that you start listening carefully and understanding how you can help rather than hinder.

My approach is always to think about how I can support my staff to do their best work.  I try to ensure clear direction from the beginning and offer pointers where I think they might help.  Questions are also a useful tool for helping them to think things through and hopefully bring them around to your way of doing things.  Ultimately, if you are critical, judgemental or heavy-handed, they won’t tell you what’s going on and I’d say understandably so.

 

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How not to treat your pregnant employees if you want them to keep working for you

Given that at the moment I am expecting my first child, I currently have lots of pregnant friends and I am shocked by the number of things they say about issues faced in the workplace and how they are treated by their employer and colleagues because they are pregnant.  Despite equality laws protecting against this kind of thing, pregnancy discrimination is rife in our workplaces.

Stories I have heard include someone finding out from another colleague details of who has been chosen to cover their role while they are on leave; women being treated like they have left already; and assumptions being made about when and on what basis they will be returning.

People in the workplace seem to forget (or not realise) that it’s the 21st Century and women make a wide range of choices these days.  For a start, Shared Parental Leave means that Dads can stay at home too and increasingly, men are taking a break from the workplace to do just that.  I have of course been asked if I will be giving up work which is laughable in a society of dual income households not to mention the fact that lots of women want a career and don’t believe that having a baby means they have to give this up.

Then you get people assuming you will be returning part-time after the baby is born. Which also isn’t for me (and many others) because I’m likely to do the same work anyway and I want my full pension thank you very much!  Naturally, my husband has not been subjected to any of these questions about his own decisions although I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been asked about mine.

It isn’t necessary these days and things really have to change, so what should you be doing if you want to be a good employer for those in the family way?

1) Don’t make assumptions and encourage others not to as well – these days, it is more than possible to raise a family and continue working so no matter how well-meaning you are, do not assume women will take 12 months off, return part-time or seek a less demanding role.  Better to assume that they will want to return to the same role at the same capacity and if they want to talk to you about reduced hours or other flexible working arrangements, they will let you know.

2) Ensure those who are preparing to go on any kind of child-related leave are involved in decisions about their role – they might be going on maternity leave but may well return and preferably to the job they left so they will appreciate it if you ask them their views on how to cover the role in their absence.  Discuss their plans for maternity leave and see what level of contact they would like to have while they are away.  Keep in touch days exist for a reason and some women will want to make sure they are used to the best effect.  When decisions have been made, make sure you talk to them and explain what is going to happen and why you have decided to do things that way.

3) Keep in touch – whether they use their keep in touch days or not, make sure they are kept up to speed with any important changes.  Is there something big kicking off that might make them worry for their role?  Update them on developments so that they can feel confident that they are a valued member of the team.

4) Carry out the risk assessment – it’s mandatory for a reason and women will want to make sure that their employer recognises the risks associated to the role and cares about making sure there are no unfair expectations placed on them that might cause harm to their baby.

5) Treat them with respect – while they’re there, while they’re off and when they come back.  Commit to good communication, timely responses or decisions and ensure all discussions are handled with sensitivity.  It will be appreciated and they will be more likely to come back.

I’m sure you made the hire in the first place thinking that person was amazing for the role.  Hopefully, they have proven you right and performed well during their time with you.  If that’s the case, you would want them back, right? Under whatever circumstances they want to return.

So treat them right and you have a good chance that they will want to re-join your fold after they have settled in to their new world order and continue doing the same amazing job they were doing before, probably with even more commitment because they know they are lucky to have a good employer and want to work hard for you.

Does this resonate with you?  Have you experiences of being pregnant in the workplace? Or are you an employer that agrees or is frustrated with these ideas?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

3minuteleadership.org

 

 

 

Why diversity is more than demographics

When I first became a Manager, I had one member of staff in my team.  She was my antithesis.  Completely the opposite of me.  I didn’t understand her way of working or why it was so difficult and I found it very frustrating.  She would focus on the minute details, take her time over things and make sure everything was exactly right.  In contrast, I support the Facebook mantra of ‘done is better than perfect’.  That doesn’t mean a lack of standards but I’m not looking for the best piece of work ever but sometimes if you spend too long making it perfect, you end up missing the moment.

Not long after we had begun working together, I went on a training course about emotional intelligence and it was there that I had a light bulb moment.  We did an activity about working styles and in doing this, I realised that my colleague was a ‘be perfect’ whereas I’m a ‘hurry up’.  As soon as I realised that, my approach changed and we had a much more successful working relationship from there on in.  By the time she left the organisation, I had learnt that the opposite skills that she brought to the team were exactly what I needed and once I was back to working with someone similar to myself, I felt a loss of skills that had been extremely valuable.

Today, I deliberately look for difference when hiring people.  It might be tempting to recruit in my own image and it can be easier to work with others who think the same way that you do and take the same approach but I now understand the true value of diversity and aim to construct a team where each individual brings something different and can shine in their own right.  My current team is a fantastic example of this – individually unique and perfect together.  They each bring something to the party which makes for endless good times!

Often when we talk about diversity we think about demographics – sex, race, age, ability – and this is extremely important but I do think it’s more than that.  In my view, we need to think about difference more broadly and recognise the value of bringing people, views and skills together.  The reason diversity is said to be good for business is that it brings a variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience which improves decision making and problem solving .  An article published in The Guardian claims that ‘unconscious bias and a tendency to hire in their own image can lead managers to bring in the wrong candidate for their team ’ and suggests that ‘a lack of diversity is one of the biggest issues threatening the advertising industry today, challenging the credibility of the industry and preventing businesses from being run as effectively as they could be’.   The advice in this article is to ‘consider each hire based on the value they can add to the team, rather than simply in a specific role. It is not always about hiring the best person for the role, rather the best person for the team as a whole’.

Keep an eye on the skills in the team and consider what’s missing.  Then when you recruit in the future you can look for someone who will add value to the team rather than bringing what you already have.

Have you got your own stories about the benefits of having a diverse team?  Can you relate to the experiences above or do you have your own which challenge this view?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

If you want to understand the roles in your team or find out if you have unconscious bias, try these tools:

 

www.3minuteleadership.org 

 

Photo: Pixabay.com

 

3 things employers can do now to address the gender pay gap in their workplace

Gender pay is back in the headlines this week as the deadline passes for reporting pay for male and female employees in companies with more than 250 staff.  From today, employers will need to be transparent about average pay for men and women in their organisations which includes any difference in bonuses or at different levels of the pay scale.

This move has been taken by the UK Government because despite over 40 years of Equal Pay legislation, the gender pay gap remains a stubborn problem that the Government is committed to address.  From now on, companies will need to know the situation across their business which will shine a light on gender inequality in the workplace and hopefully lead to plans to address the imbalance.

What creates this problem?  A wide range of factors contribute to the continued pay inequality for women not only in the UK but around the world.  Firstly, more women than men enter careers with low pay such as hairdressing and childcare whereas more men are found in higher paying sectors such as construction and engineering.

Women are more likely to take on the caring role within the family meaning that work and career take a back seat.  Choosing to reduce hours limits women’s career options with part-time roles at a senior level being extremely difficult to find.  Instead, those women who prioritise family-friendly working hours tend to find their options limited to jobs which are low skilled and low paid.

From a male perspective, whilst rights are increasing for fathers who want to share the responsibility of caring for the family, exercising these rights is often more of a challenge.  At all levels of society, assumptions are made about what changes a woman will make once a baby arrives with far less consideration given to how the father might plan to change his working patterns or adjust his career goals.

What needs to be done to tackle the gender pay gap?  It’s going to be a long journey with lots of work required to change society’s views on gender roles including working with children to create a foundation for success.  However, if you are an employer that wants to start addressing this today, here are three things that employers can do now to make a significant difference for gender pay inequality:

1)      Identify any structural issues in the organisation

Many times, I have heard employers say they would love to appoint women to their advertised roles if only they would apply.  My response to this is to ask them to consider why women might not put themselves forward for these roles.  One possibility might be that women think they can’t have flexibility in the role.  For example, across a number of organisations, I have heard women say that they value their flexibility and senior roles in their organisation state that post-holders are required to work the hours necessary to do the job.  This can be worrying for women with family responsibilities and they can be discouraged from applying if they think they will not have the flexibility they need to manage work and home.

2)      Part-time roles at a senior level

Another thing I have heard many times over the years is that management and senior roles can’t be done part time.  In my opinion this is untrue and so a positive step would be for employers to start advertising higher level roles with a clear statement that part-time hours or flexible working is available.  For roles that do need someone full-time, employers should start seriously exploring job share arrangements as an option.

3)      Supporting fathers to take an active role

As long as women are seen as the ones responsible for caring for the family and home, there will be discrimination in the workplace.  New policy and legislation means that the growing number of men who want to be involved in raising up the family, are able to do so. However, enhanced packages offered to women need to be available to men as well to make shared parental leave a viable option. And we need to encourage more men to exercise their right to request flexible working until it is no longer seen as something for women.

Finally, I’ve heard lots of employers saying they know that the gender pay gap is an issue but ‘not in my workplace’.  Any organisation that thinks this way needs to seriously reflect.  If it’s true then share what you’re doing with others so they can enjoy the same success.  If it isn’t true, try some of these actions and start making a change.


Do you agree with the suggestions in this article? Are these things having an impact already in your workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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