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Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Fujitsu sitting on a chair

The road to diversity: Elevating gender parity in the workplace

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Diversity is more than just a buzzword, it can be the superpower that transforms an organisation and enables them to reach their full potential. It’s a win-win situation with the prize being increased job satisfaction, staff retention and peak performance. 

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile, according to reports. When people feel comfortable being their true, authentic selves at work, they’re happier, more engaged and more productive.

It wouldn’t be possible to think about diversity and ignore the gender parity that exists. From Lady Nancy Astor’s historic election as the first female MP in 1919 to the first all-woman spacewalk in 2019, women have made significant strides towards diversity.

However, the truth remains – after two centuries of progress, women are still woefully underrepresented in leadership roles, with just 29% of senior management positions held by women worldwide. This gaping chasm in the workplace is a large problem that throttles diversity, authenticity and female career progression, with inequal pay adding to this mixture.

International Women’s Day 2023 celebrated the ‘Accelerate Equality’ movement to smash gender gaps and power up women and girls to spark real change. But the root of gender inequality in the workplace is multi-faceted, from entrenched stereotypes and biases to systemic obstacles that hinder women’s growth. The fallout is severe, and it’s time to face it head-on.

The lack of work-life balance policies that support women in these situations is a serious problem that causes decreased productivity, high employee turnover and damage to a company’s reputation. 

How gender inequality impacts talent acquisition 

The majority of women (58%) and nearly half (44%) of men believe that unconscious hiring bias is the culprit holding women back in their careers.

This not only limits qualified female candidates but also stifles diversity in the talent pool. But it’s not just that ­– the lack of mentorship opportunities and work-life balance policies that promote women’s careers also contribute to this issue.

Finding a mentor is easier said than done, when there are so few women in senior positions that can support. Women often hit a dead end when opportunities for growth and development are scarce, or when workplace culture is hostile. This not only limits qualified female candidates but also stifles diversity in the talent pool.

Not only do women have to deal with the challenges of climbing the corporate ladder, but they also frequently bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities. The lack of work-life balance policies that support women in these situations is a serious problem that causes decreased productivity, high employee turnover and damage to a company’s reputation.

But there is a solution – diverse and inclusive workforces. By creating a gender-balanced space, companies can reap the benefits of a happier, more engaged workforce.

So, it’s time to stop treating work-life balance as a social issue and start seeing it as a crucial business strategy.

Further, it has been proven to be a key factor in attracting and retaining the best talent. According to a McKinsey & Company study, companies with more women in leadership roles were 21% more likely to rake in above-average profits than their less inclusive counterparts.

But it’s not just about the bottom line, gender inequality affects everyone in the workplace including 35% of non-binary employees who experience discrimination or harassment due to their gender identity.

In today’s fast-paced economy, retaining female talent is critical for any business looking to stay ahead of the game. With the ongoing tech layoffs and advancements in AI technology, competition for top talent is fierce. More than competition, the recent surge in inflation has hit many employees hard, especially those who have traditionally been paid less than their male colleagues. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for companies to create an environment where women feel valued and supported.

Fostering a more inclusive environment 

According to research, diverse teams make better decisions and are more likely to innovate.

Companies should take tangible steps towards creating a more inclusive culture by offering diversity and inclusion training for everyone. This training can help raise awareness of unconscious bias and promote inclusivity. But it doesn’t stop there – mentorship programmes are also a key factor in helping women advance in their careers by providing networking and skill-building opportunities.

In today’s fast-paced working environment, ignoring gender inequality is not an option if we want to break the vicious cycle. 

The Women’s Business Network (WBN) at Fujitsu is an important source of insight and influence in our inclusion strategy, providing a platform for women to connect, share experiences and learn from one another. Members of the network provide valuable feedback on areas where the company can improve to be more inclusive of women so they feel heard.

Because women are frequently underrepresented in the technology industry, we realise the importance of highlighting their contributions and encouraging employers to do the same. We’re proud to be one of the

BITC Times Top 50 Employers for Women, and for our employees’ consistent inclusion in the Top 100 Most Influential BAME Leaders in Tech and TechWomen 100 lists.

At our company, we believe that everyone deserves a seat at the table, and we’re committed to making sure that happens. But this is an ongoing journey, one that should not, by any means, fall off the priority list.

Celebrating bringing unique skills 

In today’s fast-paced working environment, ignoring gender inequality is not an option if we want to break the vicious cycle.

It’s no secret that when any person feels valued and supported, they are more productive, have higher job satisfaction and are less likely to leave their employment.

So why not prioritise gender equity to attract and commit to creating a workplace that is attractive to all employees, no matter what pronoun they connect with? It’s time to step up and quit thinking of diversity as a ‘requirement’ – it’s time to join the movement and empower everyone to bring their authentic selves to work, as a non-negotiable.

 

Kelly Metcalf is the head of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing for Fujitsu northern and western Europe. She has held a variety of senior roles during her 15 years at Fujitsu, including head of organisation design and change and European-wide HR generalist roles.

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