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Blog : BOARD TALK

Women & Work In The UK : A Betrayal Of Potential

Posted on March 8, 2013 at 1:30 AM

Those who think all the talk about women on boards, women in business and women in the workplace in the UK is a lot of fuss and a lot of waffle need to pay urgent attention. Now we have statistics.


Research from PwC  reveals that women in the UK are less likely to be in work, experience lower job security and greater pay inequality than their counterparts in other developed countries.


The just-released Women In Work Index ranks the UK in 18th position out of a sample of 27 OECD countries in 2011 on five key indicators of female economic empowerment:

1. equality of earnings with men

2/3.proportion of women in work both in absolute terms and relative to men

4. female unemployment rate

5. proportion of women in full-time employment


How did we let this happen ? The government needn't worry about all that 'illegal immigration' - why would women come here ?


The Nordic countries lead the index. Surprise surprise, Norway is in pole position. Maybe (duh) it has something to do with their commitment to certain socio-economic ideals...


The PwC economist and author of the report, Yong Jing Teow, says : "It is worrying that the UK's progress in encouraging more women into work and closing the gender pay gap has all but ground to a halt since the recession hit. While most other OECD countries have continued to move ahead, our progress appears to have stalled."


The sound of stalling engines is suddenly everywhere. The rot started to set in at the millenium. Since then there have been improvements in "all indicators apart from the proportion of female employees in full-time jobs."


PwC analysis shows that having "one of the lowest shares of female employees in full-time jobs" is getting worse. (The only other OECD countrties with lower proportions of women in full-time roles are the Netherlands and Switzerland. I don't know about you, but I can think of several reasons why that might be so in those countries, no disrespect to them intended).


Clearly you need to look at the research yourself, for which contact PwC.


I am going to give Margaret Cole, general counsel and PwC executive board member the last word here (with my emphasis for reinforcement)

"At a time when the watchword for the UK economy is growth, encouraging greater economic empowerment for women has to be a priority to get the UK back on the road to recovery. It is worrying that increasing employment opportunities for women seems to have been pushed down organisations' agendas since the recession.

There is no silver bullet for solving increasing female participation in the workforce. Actions need to be taken from the top of the organisation. Businesses should be held to account over their female promotion pipelines and diversity goals. Young women want visible and aspirational role models at all levels and boards should be accountable for providing these.

Without strong and accountable action from British businesses, it is hard to see how we can achieve any real change and move past tokenism."


There is a wind of social change afoot and politicians ignore it at their peril - but sadly, also at ours.


Categories: Corporate, Women, Appointments