Gender Parity: What a truly sustainable workforce needs

Written by: on December 4, 2023

Gender parity and workforce sustainability. Highlights from our EDI report, in association with InnovateHer.

“From ensuring diversity of perspective, to talent acquisition and retention, to improving performance and productivity, and even enhancing brand image – gender equality plays a significant role in promoting sustainable development and, in turn, business resilience.”Gender equality x Corporate sustainability: A British business pulse-check.

Too many businesses view sustainability as a climate emergency, rather than a corporate one too. We’re all too familiar with the concepts of EDI- and green-washing: talking the talk, where practical, necessary steps to improve efforts incrementally are actually essential. 

Building a truly sustainable workforce is about more than perks, benefits and pay. It’s a huge topic. Here, we take a chunk out of it, exploring the role of gender parity, specifically, on the sustainability of the workforce.

A Sustainable Business Depends On A Sustainable Workforce

From agency fees, to weeks of induction and onboarding, recruitment can be expensive and resource-heavy. Staff retention and upskilling are critical to business resilience. 

Women have a uniquely complex relationship with their careers over their lifetime. The traditional 9-5, full-time working week does little to support women in their (traditional, but all too often still-applicable) roles as primary caregivers for children and elderly relatives, and undervalues the huge economic contributions of this unpaid labour.

Work like you’re not a mother, mother like you don’t work. And if you’re not a mother – work like a man anyway.

As women move through life stages and all the demands that come with them – children, breastfeeding, school pick-ups, menopause, the monthly cycle that threads through it all – they often need different support than their male counterparts to be able to meet the demands of their careers. 

Therefore, to achieve a truly sustainable workforce – one that benefits from long-term employee retention and all the institutional knowledge and efficiency that comes with that – equity for the female workforce is critical.

Gender Parity: Where are we now?

According to our British business pulse check, women remain a minority presence in senior management roles, especially at board level. What’s more, only 57% of respondents recognised that becoming a truly sustainable business requires sufficient support and representation of their female workforce. 

But that’s not to say that women and their skills aren’t valued in the workplace, even after big lifestyle changes like having children. Our report paints a largely complimentary picture of women returning to the workforce, citing increased levels of productivity, engagement and morale as characteristics of new mothers.

Women are generally valued and respected, but still underrepresented. 
The time to act to build a more sustainable, resilient workforce and business is now.

Read more about the relationship between gender parity and corporate sustainability in our report.

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