Equality in the workplace? Women will have to wait another 70 years

17 Aug

It will be 70 years before women are on a par with men in the workplace, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The equality watchdog’s Sex and Power 2011 report says that 5,400 women are missing from Britain 26,000 top positions in business, politics and the arts because too often they are passed over for these leading roles. The report measures the number of women in positions of power and influence across 27 categories in the public and private sectors – and unfortunately little has changed since the last report in 2008.

The EHRC calculates that at the current rate, it will take 70 years to reach an equal number of male and female directors in FTSE 100 companies. While women are graduating with better degrees than men, and have equal status in the workplace in their twenties, beyond that women find they’re stuck in the layer below senior management. The EHRC suggests that women are held back by inflexible organisations, outdated working patterns, and unequal division of domestic chores – and that Britain is missing out on the business benefits that diverse boards bring.

Commissioner Kay Carberry said: “The gender balance at the top has not changed much in three years, despite there being more women graduating from university and occupying middle management roles. We had hoped to see an increase in the number of women in positions of power. However, this isn’t happening.

“Many women disappear from the paid workforce after they have children, so employers lose their skills. Others become stuck in positions below senior management, leaving many feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.  Consequently, the higher ranks of power in many organisations are still dominated by men.

“If Britain is to stage a strong recovery from its current economic situation, then we have to make sure we’re not wasting women’s skills and talents.”


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