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38% of employees cite gender bias as the greatest barrier to an inclusive workplace

Inflexible working and unequal pay hinders women’s career progression

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It’s important to have a safe space where employees can be themselves.
38% identified gender bias and discrimination as the most significant barrier.
44.3% of Hays’ top 680 leaders were women.

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To mark International Women’s Day, a new report shines a spotlight on the barriers facing women in the workplace and highlights the benefits of striking gender balance.

The Hays report surveyed 4,500 UK professionals and found that 38% identified gender bias and discrimination as the most significant barrier followed by inflexible work arrangements (26%) and 24% pointed to unequal pay compensation.  Additionally, 13% noted a lack of mentoring/sponsorship for women within the world of work.  

A separate Hays survey explored the positive impact of achieving gender balance on organisations and 44% believe that achieving gender balance drives inclusive growth. Additionally, 31% felt it strengthens employee retention, while 18% viewed it as a key factor in building a resilient business. Lastly, 7% of respondents thought it boosts profitability.  

As we mark International Women’s Day, these poll results remind us of both the challenges and opportunities when it comes to gender equity and inclusion within the world of work.

While progress has been made, with many companies committing to targets globally to address the number of senior positions held by women and tackling existing gender pay gaps, biases still exist. Hays has recently joined the UN Global Compact as one of many steps it is taking towards establishing a more equal world. The company, a specialist leader in workforce solutions and recruitment, pledges it is fully committed to improving the gender balance of its most senior leadership. In 2023, 44.3% of Hays’ top 680 leaders were women, an improvement of 1.9% on the previous year, meaning the organisation is on track to reach its target of 50% representation by 2030.  

Bianca Stringuini, Global Head of DE&I at Hays, said: “As we mark International Women’s Day, these poll results remind us of both the challenges and opportunities when it comes to gender equity and inclusion within the world of work. They highlight the systemic barriers that women can face in the workplace, from gender bias to inflexible work arrangements. Yet, they also emphasise the value that achieving gender balance can bring to organisations, driving inclusive growth and strengthening employee retention. As we strive for gender equity, we must remember that diversity isn’t just good ethics, it’s also good business. To achieve inclusive growth, it’s important to first have a safe space where employees can be themselves. That way, it can attract diverse talent as well, which will help organisations to build a healthy, diverse workforce.”

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