The theme for International Women’s Day this year is Inspire Inclusion. They are asking us to imagine a gender-equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, where difference is valued and celebrated. But what does that mean for your business in 2024?  How do you Inspire Inclusion in a practical, actionable way in your organisation?

We spoke to some of our team members to get their perspective on Inspiring Gender Inclusion in the workplace.

The Motherhood Penalty

According to UK Government research, the pay gap increases sharply at the point where heterosexual couples have children. By the time their first child is aged 12, mothers’ average hourly wages are a third below fathers’.  Women are also three times more likely to work part-time than men, and take on the majority of unpaid carer roles in the UK.  If nothing changes, this disparity carries on throughout their whole working lives, with women aged 55 to 64 being 20% less likely to have a private pension, and those who do have almost 40% less wealth held in them.

Taking time out of work or limiting work hours, often for caring, can have a big impact on pay and progression: differences in labour market participation between women and men are the biggest single driver of the gender pay gap, at 40% Of those who are economically inactive due to caring for their home or family, around 90% are women.

Conversely, women who do not take on the caring roles, and mothers who choose not to take career breaks can feel judged by their choices.  In the UK men who take longer parental leave than their partners are still referred to as ‘swapping’ roles.  Changing the dialogue around roles within and outside of business is vital.

While this problem seems insurmountable, the solutions are simple – flexible working options for all, having a fair and equitable shared parental leave (SPL) policy, and diverse and inclusive recruitment will all help to tackle what has become known as the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ in the UK workforce.

Inclusion for all Genders

“During International Women’s Day, it’s a time to recognise and ensure inclusion is felt and available for women in your workplace, it is also important to note that this has never been exclusive to only cisgender women. To exclude trans women for example is contrary to the very core of achieving inclusive cultures within your organisation and the essence of International Women’s Day.

“I understand that this idea can be challenging for some, but to do inclusion authentically during this time, shouldn’t come at the cost of others feeling excluded at best, and hated at worst.  This is a time to end discrimination for ALL women, and our message is stronger if we can unite together.”

Katy Morrison, EDI Lead

Fair Work and Gender Inclusion

“Helping to amplify the voices of women in the workplace is a practical way that you can be an Ally every day.

Barriers to Gender inclusion happen when there is no fair opportunity and this impacts people's organisational practices as well as behaviours and attitudes to inclusion in the workplace. The Fair Work Convention and Framework is focused on world-leading working lives for success, well-being and prosperity, and must consider gender inclusion, amongst many other things, key to achieving this.

“One of the primary dimensions of Fair work is Effective Voice.  Having an effective employee voice improves people's happiness and productivity at work. There are, of course, legal obligations which protect people from being discriminated against for their gender at a minimum, however, true inclusion goes beyond protected characteristics and looks at truly inclusive cultures. This includes organisations' approach to recruitment, training and development, flexible working, career progression, workplace practices, connection and support and psychological safety in organisational culture.”

Barbara Clark, Lead Explorer

The Importance of Inclusion

“Gender inclusion sparks creativity when it comes to looking at problems as it provides a variety of perspectives.  From my lived experience in India - women, until recent times as this is changing slowly, have been conventionally perceived as the ‘homemakers’. This has traditionally involved taking care of everything at home including the family's health and nutrition, managing relationships with the extended family and friends, planning household expenses and requirements, and more on a daily basis.

Managing such a variety and volume of things so effectively and efficiently, to me is an exceptional quality that can translate so well to the workplace, and is an absolute necessity for organisations if they want to succeed and be sustainable.  The question becomes, how do we build a culture where the skills of these women are truly valued in the workplace?  If women listed these skills on their CV under the title of ‘homemaker’ would your organisation consider them as a candidate?

“For me, cultural diversity and gender inclusion are necessary for organisations that want to accomplish their goals.  By taking advantage of the perspectives, skills and experiences that different social groups have you will make leaps forward in your business.”

Ajeya Akhila Nand, Finance Manager

If you’d like more in depth support on inspiring gender inclusion in your business, why not join Katy at her Glasgow ChIf you’d like more in depth support on inspiring gender inclusion in your business, why not join Katy at her Glasgow Chamber of Commerce webinar on Gender Inclusion in the Workplace on 15th March?  Sign up here.