For the first time the proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards has topped 20%. Finally, reaching the government’s target of 25% female membership is looking more and more likely.
The diversity in UK companies
The diversity discussion is one which has populated the business section of the news continually over past months. It’s been given the media attention, so is 2015 the year where discrimination in the workplace can be confined to the past or have we still got a mountain to climb?
According to research conducted by Construction News during Q4 2014, 45% of their respondents stated that they believed their company has a fair gender balance in their organisations, with 53% stating they employed a sufficient number of people from ethnically diverse backgrounds too.
However, despite claims that the construction industry in particular is a leading light for diversity, only 12% of the construction workforce are women, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
One respondent from the research commented in reaction to the statistics and said that their company’s recruitment efforts involved interviewing candidates from varied backgrounds, regardless of their gender. However their focus was on the search for “the most appropriate people to employ” and they were left consistently frustrated by the lack of skills, experience and general attitude.
Positive media reports can also overshadow the facts in the case of wages. Despite the narrowing of the gender pay gap, women still earn 82p for every £1 earned by man.
The role of women contract labour force
However, there is good news. Publication of a major research report conducted by the Fawcett Society in 2014 found that since the start of the 2008 recession, 371,000 more women have moved into self-employment, suggesting that the female contract labour force is not only a significant contributor to the economy, it is also a major driving force behind its recent recovery.
Despite progress in diversity across the board, and particularly in the case of the temporary workforce, there is still a sizable distance to go in reaching equality not only in regard to gender but also in race, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age.