Will Employment Sexual Equality Ever Truly Exist in the UK?
In an ideal world, the talk about sexual equality at work should not even take place. In the real world, the problems arising from gender discrimination are perhaps some of the most discussed issues when it comes to the work environment in the UK. As of 2013, employment sexual equality in the UK is still far away from reality.
The FTSE 100 Board Target
One of the most discussed headlines regarding this matter these days is the case of the FTSE 100, which is still 66 women short from hitting the board target. This figure only adds to the concerns raised in recent years about the number of female executives in British business. The target set by the government means that women should hold a quarter of the seats in UK’s biggest boardrooms. This is, however, not a question of simply hiring more women.
Not Just a British Phenomenon
The problem of gender equality at work is not only a British matter. According to a Word Bank report published in September 2013, the gender equality in developing countries has made great progress in education in recent decades, but much less in the workplace. The report shows that women continue to be much more involved at home than men and that they bear a disproportionate share of domestic and family responsibilities.
According to the researchers at World Bank, women are more likely to prefer the flexibility of work and offer fewer hours of paid work than men. This means that they are automatically directed to lower quality jobs.
Crippling Statutory Maternity Pay Obligations for Employers
The question of employment gender equality in the UK cannot be solved without taking into account the maternity matter. Even though women are getting more maternity rights through employment laws, the fact of the matter is that this is still not enough to solve the problem of sexual inequality.
Women in their late 20s and 30s are often discriminated against when it comes to employment, simply because they may want to start a family in the near future. Employers do not want to take the risk of having to pay the often crippling statutory costs, and thus they choose to hire men instead.
Figures in the last decades show that even though immense progress has been made towards equality in almost all matters of life, the problem of the workplace is still one that causes a large number of debates. Women are more unemployed than men, they mostly tend to remain concentrated in the so-called ‘women’s jobs’ such as nurses, cleaners, teachers, waiters, etc.; they are more likely to find themselves in temporary and unskilled jobs, and they are paid less than men for the same job.
What Does Research Show on the Matter?
One curious fact that has been uncovered by the investment firm Randstad staff in a survey conducted in 29 countries around the world in 2011 is that women themselves do not seem to be pushing themselves in the direction of gender equality at work.
- According to the survey, in Canada only 28% of male employees and 34% of female employees believe that their organisation’s performance would improve if their boardroom included more women.
- Argentina, Greece, India, Luxembourg and Slovakia have the same opinion. France is a rare exception, with 48% of the female employees believing in the positive impact of women in high-management positions.
- In the UK, just 30% of the women think that things would be better if they worked under the direction of another woman.
Employment Gender Equality Won’t Be Here Any Time Soon!
With this in mind, the prospects of gender equality at work in the UK seem a little far off. Even though today it seems unacceptable for the voice of women to be completely absent from almost any boardroom in the country, the numbers are still not showing equality. This is not only true for high-skilled jobs, but for lower paid ones as well.
As long as a woman’s work remains paid less than a man’s in the same position, there cannot be any talk of equality. However, at the same time, we do not to bear in mind that statutory maternity pay has now reached completely crippling levels for many small and medium-sized businesses in this country; indeed, such obligations can be far too much for many companies to have to find.