The recent study by Hays Ireland, entitled Hays Ireland’s Gender Diversity Report 2017, has highlighted an inequality with regards to parental leave and perceived entitlements.
More than fifty percent of employees do not feel that fathers in their organisation make use of their full allocation of parental leave and most of them feel that fathers are concerned about the negative impact it would have on their finances if they were to take their full leave entitlement. A sizable portion of respondents thought that fathers might be afraid that employers will question their commitment to their careers.
The 250 male and female respondents who were surveyed work in technical and specialist roles in Ireland. Twenty-six percent of respondents said that they view parental leave as a benefit that was exclusive to mothers.
Irish employment law provides 18 weeks of parental leave per child for both fathers and mothers until the child’s eighth birthday. Additionally, nearly sixty percent of employees felt that there was an equal opportunity imbalance at the organisation where they worked. Three out of four respondents felt that they are able to progress their careers and promote their skills in the workplace, while one out of three females felt that equally capable men had better career opportunities than their female counterparts.
Close to 60% of men thought that their female colleagues received equal pay and rewards, while more than 80% of females disagreed. Fifty-four percent of respondents agreed that prioritising inclusion programmes that help foster diversity and innovation is an important key in combating gender inequality in today’s modern workplace. Such programmes have been shown to create a more positive culture and boost morale.
Another Hays Ireland report found that 29% of individuals consider the diversity policy of a company before they apply for a job. However, 30% of male and 20% of female employees are unaware as to whether their organisation has a diversity policy. Sixty percent of respondents did agree that senior management should better communicate in order to raise awareness about diversity programmes. Nearly all respondents to the recent survey believe that inclusion and diversity include flexible working options, such as remote working and flexi-time. They feel that it benefits both employees and the company alike, and nearly half of them believe that it allows for women to be better presented in senior management roles.
Yet, both men and women felt that flexible working options might harm their prospects for career advancement. Gender disparity became evident when respondents were asked whether flexible working options were career limiting for women, as 75% of women and nearly 60% of men agreed that it was. When asked if flexible working options would be career limiting for men, 64% of men and 54% of women agreed.
Organisations’ approaches to gender equality seem to dissatisfy workers, which indicates some room for improvement. While every employee plays a role in working together to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, it is ultimately senior management’s responsibility to create and execute suitable programmes.
Based on the findings of the survey, employees seek that guidance from their seniors. Even remote or flexiworkers seek that ethos which allows for meaningful career advancement that lies at the core of a successfully executed diversity programme. Stereotypes that suggest that only women seek flexible working options, or that earning potential and professional development are undone by this kind of ethos.
By creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, new parents experience peace of mind, which encourages them to take the leave their families need them to take, and it ultimately makes the organisation more attractive to potential employees.
ORGANISATIONS THAT SEEK TO IMPROVE THEIR INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY PROGRAMMES CAN USE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
- Appoint a dedicated ‘diversity officer’ in your company. This person should take ownership of the company’s diversity programme and work as a champion to oversee its success.
- Be sure to promote your company’s inclusion programme to your existing staff and also to new employees.
- Ensure that employees’ fears regarding flexible working harming their prospects of career advancement are allayed.
- Create a clear workflow for your company’s plans for professional development.
By creating an innovative and dynamic workflow that improves morale and by removing gender inequality obstacles in the workplace, you can improve your organisation’s ability to attract and retain quality talent.