I love to talk (lucky since I work in communications), but despite it being a personal passion there is one topic that I am done talking about: gender equality.
I am as angry and frustrated as the next person about the slow pace of change, the injustice that women are paid less than men, that women are overlooked for promotions and pay rises because they work flexibly or carry the load of caring responsibilities. But we have talked ad infinitum about these issues. My only interest now is in actually doing something that will create real change.
This year the theme for today’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’ – a decisive move from making a pledge for parity (last year’s theme) to calling on people to take real action. In the current climate it feels relevant to be launching such a strong call to action and undoubtedly it will resonate and will create change.
The saying goes that talk is also cheap. Maybe that’s why so many businesses prefer to ‘talk’ about gender equality rather than make the cultural and policy changes needed to address the issues.
There is a sense that if you’ve set up a women’s leadership network or announced you will report on the gender pay gap that you’ve ticked the box. Job done. It will all resolve itself now that women are talking (note amongst themselves) about the problems they face or we’re sharing our data. Making real change seems overwhelming or scary or too controversial or just difficult.
I’ve learnt that making small, discreet changes to the way you recruit and your work culture and policies can have a huge impact.
Many of these changes are simple and easy to implement, such as advertising all your new roles as being open to flexible terms so that talented, experienced men and women who wish to work less than a 5 day week are actively encouraged to apply for roles instead of left wondering if they are wasting their time? And at which point in the interview process do they mention they need to leave at 5pm for childcare and will this immediately disqualify them?
When you think about it – it’s only a five minute job to change the wording on your website. Yes of course you also need to train and educate your hiring managers. But making a change as simple as that is still a change and once you do that the rest will follow.
That’s why today in support of the International Women’s Day 2017 campaign, at Golin London we are making simple changes to the way we work to help expedite the closing of the gender pay gap.