Balancing the books for women in the workplace

March 5, 2019

On the eve of International Women’s Day, EY’s Newcastle senior partner Sandra Thompson reflects on the progress made on diversity and inclusion and how the pace of change needs to be accelerated

At a time when businesses face unprecedented challenges due to technology and disruption, having a diverse workforce and leadership team has never been more important. Harnessing the most diverse range of ideas, experience and skills helps to solve complex challenges and reach better solutions.

As business leaders, we should ask ourselves: How can we make our organisation more diverse and inclusive? How can we increase the representation of women in leadership roles?

Progress continues to be slow. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 202 years for economic equality between men and women to be achieved around the world.

International Women’s Day on March 8 gives us all the opportunity to reflect on what more everyone can do to further advance change.

Last year, with the introduction of the UK Pay Gap Regulations, employers with more than 250 employees were required to publish the overall difference in pay between men and women. The legislation prompts companies to understand why they have a pay gap and what they can do to address it.

EY published its gender pay gap and went beyond the regulations by voluntarily publishing its ethnicity and partner pay gap data. Our analysis shows that we have more men than women at senior levels within our business, and a larger proportion of women than men among our junior ranks, contributing to a gender pay gap.

But this is changing and we are blazing the trail in the North. I’m proud to say that out of our four office managing partners in the North of England, three of us are women.

EY’s partnership in the UK is currently 20 per cent female with a clear target to have at least 30 per cent female representation in its new partner intake, measured on a three-year rolling period; in 2017 that figure stood at 27 per cent.

But we know there is more work to do. Work and personal lives can be inextricably linked and finding the right balance between the two – something that is often harder for working women who also have families – is part of solving this issue.

At EY, we believe the real game changer is continuing to build an inclusive culture, where all our people feel they belong and can achieve their potential.

We have harmonised our parental leave policies, including shared parental leave, to make being a working parent a gender-neutral decision.

Flexible working empowers all our people to decide how, when and where they work and more than 84 per cent of people in the firm said they do work flexibly.

EY Reconnect is a returnship programme that helps people who have taken a career break of up to ten years back into the profession, allowing us to benefit from transferable skill sets gained outside of the workplace and broaden our talent pool.

Our Inclusive Leadership programme is designed for our leaders and outlines the impact of unconscious bias in behaviours and processes and gives them tools to interrupt them.

Diversity and inclusiveness is a business priority for EY and a commercial imperative.

We are a people business and that’s why it is so important that we continually ask ourselves whether our workforce is reflective of the real world.

We particularly want to improve the representation of women and ethnic minorities at all levels of our business, broaden our talent pool and equip our business with the skills, experience and diverse perspectives that will help us to serve our clients and prepare our business for the future.

EY
www.ey.com/uk/north
@SandraWThompson

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