Diversity and Inclusion  

Don't "kid yourselves" over gender inequality, industry told

Don't "kid yourselves" over gender inequality, industry told
 Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the TUC

The industry has been urged to not "kid" themselves over gender inequality in the workplace amid a warning of "sexist aggression towards women".

The warning bell was sounded by the Trades Union Congress following government figures published last week showing women now account for a third of FTSE 100 board members.

The figures meant a headline target of the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review was met almost one year in advance of target, but the research still showed just 15 per cent of FTSE 100 finance directors were women. 

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the TUC, said: "It's great that more women have seats on company boards. But let's not kid ourselves – we have a long way to go.

"Men are still seven times more likely to be finance directors than women. That is not right."

Everyday sexism in the workplace was a common theme flagged in a recent survey by King's College, with researchers warning of "micro-aggressions" and "incivility" in the workplace. 

In a survey of 350 employees at board or executive committee level, 33 per cent of women reported someone at work had made disrespectful or insulting remarks about them compared with 13 per cent of men. 

Ms O'Grady said: "The government won’t be able to achieve gender equality unless it makes work more family-friendly. And unless it tackles sexist aggression towards women.

"That means having day-one rights to flexible working, and it means placing a legal duty on employers to prevent harassment at work."

The research from King's College also found 23 per cent of women reported they had been shouted or sworn at by someone at work, compared with 16 per cent of men, and 34 per cent said someone at work had ignored or failed to speak to them compared with 23 per cent of their male counterparts. 

Sir Jon Thompson, chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council, said: "Successful and sustainable businesses should reflect the views of shareholders and wider society, with an understanding of the value greater diversity brings at both board level and throughout the business.

"Given the clear benefits greater diversity brings we expect to see improved reporting going forward to meet the Hampton-Alexander targets."

rachel.mortimer@ft.com

Financial Adviser's Diversity in Finance Awards 2020 has now opened for entries to celebrate those companies and individuals who have gone the extra mile to incorporate D&I policies and implement best practice for their staff, stakeholders and consumers. Visit https://diversityinfinance.ftadviser.com/ to find out more.