Cameron Reveals the cost of Gender Equality

David Cameron, leader of Britain's opposition Conservative Party speaks on stage at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, England Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. The annual conference runs until Wednesday.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Cameron’s gender pay disclosure plans were met with resistance from some business leaders this week, with concerns over misleading data and administrative overhead. Perhaps being timed with the success of the FTSE 100 achieving the Lord Davies gender challenge didn’t help.

However, in context, it is estimated that by 2021 the UK will need an additional 5 million highly qualified employees to compete globally. Attracting more females into the workplace could reduce this number by up to 2 million. Cameron’s pledge for transparency is one measure which will contribute to addressing the gender imbalance which still exists especially at the senior levels in organisations.

Employers will understandably be concerned with the disclosure requirements, and we must wait to understand the mechanics of how it will work.  Recognising all organisations are on a journey, here are 4 positive steps you can take to contribute to a better gender balance in your organisation.

  1. Data – Robust data will allow you to understand the current health of your talent pipeline. Set objectives, identify what your vulnerabilities are, and set in place a scorecard to measure success.
  2. Develop talent – Introduce measures to recognise and develop diverse talent. Understand what the enablers to progressing diverse talent are within your organisation.  Consider tackling bottlenecks with positive action.
  3. Policy and procedure – Ensure that your policy and procedures compliment your objectives.  An audit check will reassure you that you are not inadvertently hindering your talent pipeline. Hotspots include recruitment and resourcing policies and unconscious bias awareness.
  4. Culture – Build an inclusive culture which enables a flexible working environment where all employees feel accepted and able to juggle other commitments. Take steps to understand what it’s like ‘working around here’, and make the necessary changes to adapt the workplace.

Whilst Cameron’s requirements will only apply to organisations with over 250 employees, my advice to smaller organisations would be to proactively keep up. What better way to get ahead of the competition, than to attract, select develop and retain the best talent for the future.

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