Are you afraid of International Women’s Day?

First published March 2016.

 

As soon as I saw that International Women’s Day was coming up, I wondered how long it would take for all the men on social media, to start asking when International Men’s Day is (about an hour and November 19th in case you are wondering). Most women, I think, would question if we need an International Men’s Day and I look forward to the day when we don’t need either day. However, equality for women in the workplace is still someway off, with the gap for anyone who isn’t white, or able-bodied even larger.

 

It also made me think about an event I spoke at a little while back. There were a significant number of men and women, who had put aside an evening to hear about women in cyber security. That they had volunteered their time to attend, shocked me even more, when a number of men approached me afterwards and suggested that women have never had it so good and that there isn’t really a problem. Every time we make progress for women’s equality, we will be able to say that women have never had it so good! The same would have been true the day we were awarded the vote, or the day that it was not compulsory for us to give up work if we got married. There are still more men called John as CEO’s in the FTSE than there are women (according to the Guardian). Just 23% of FTSE board members are female, despite growing evidence that a diverse board improves profits. According to McKinsey, companies who have 40% of women in the C-Suite, have a 55% higher profit margin than companies who are all male. How much more convincing do we need that there is work to do and that it will benefit us all?

 

If the economic arguments aren’t enough to convince you, then what about the moral ones? Do you really think your daughter deserves to be paid less than your son (check out this video from 2015 that demonstrates the point). Or the opportunities for your own personal growth by working in a diverse team and hearing different points of view. Expanding your horizons with those who don’t have the same background you do?

 

Recent research from CV Library backs up my own experience, that men are getting bored with the gender conversation. Almost half of those surveyed felt that less focus should be placed on gender diversity in the workplace. Although just under 40% also admitted that they felt an increase in diversity had a negative impact on salaries for men. In cyber security, this may be true, although just because women start to get paid fairly, doesn’t mean that men get paid less. BeecherMadden’s research has found that women are paid up to 30% more than men in the same role and get hired more quickly. This is not just because there are far fewer men than women (the industry is around 15% female) but because women bring more diverse skills. They often have skills in sales, project management and people management that their male counterparts do not. This industry is bucking the wider trend, where women are paid around 20% less than men overall or around 9% less than men in corporate roles.

 

So how do I think we can close the gap?

  • Encourage women (colleagues, wives, daughters) to push themselves forward for jobs that they are interested in, regardless of whether or not they meet all the requirements (men apply for jobs where they meet just 60% of the criteria, on average).
  • Encourage more reporting on diversity and pay gaps. How can we improve if this information is not out in the public domain?
  • Talk to girls at school about STEM subjects, that will enable them to achieve a higher paid job in the future.
  • Help women who are returning to the workplace after an absence to obtain a salary commensurate to their skills and role.
  • Encourage women to stay in the workplace by making them feel valued and paying them fairly.
  • Help the women in your life at home so they can achieve outside of it.
  • Ignore all the men that are running scared and want to stop progress!!
  • Take ownership of our careers and our pay, no one is going to hand it to you.