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Gender parity: what’s the benefit to Employers in 2018?

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

With women representing 42% of the workforce in Oxfordshire and across the UK, gender parity has not only become a desirable trait, it is also an essential element of an operationally and commercially successful business.

Facing an increasingly competitive landscape, particularly when it comes to talent acquisition coupled with stricter regulations surrounding gender equality, business leaders of today should welcome workplace diversity.  Not to fulfil a quota, but to drive customer and employee engagement.

To fully appreciate the positive impact that diversity can have on the bottom line of a business, we look to the social, financial and reputational benefits that arise from an inclusive culture in the workplace.

Building a rich mixture of skills and perspectives

When a business brings together a wide range of skills and talent, it allows for fresh perspectives to be uncovered, and varied viewpoints to be heard and considered. Over the years, a myriad of studies conducted by scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers have proven socially diverse groups to be more innovative, creative and productive than their homogenous counterparts.

Employers today are beginning to recognise the collective intelligence created from the unique strengths that both men and women have to offer; particularly when it comes to solving critical issues and making key decisions. This is something we touched upon in our article, Plugging one of the biggest gaps in the workforce: Women returners. In it, we argued that women re-entering the workplace can be an invaluable asset to Employers because they “have a skill-set that has been enhanced by their experiences outside of professional employment.”

Attracting the best talent

According to research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 57% of graduates with a first-class degree in the UK are female. On top of that, 64% of girls achieve five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent, compared to 54% of boys. Therefore, recruiting a diverse workforce should not pose a great challenge, since talented women are not in short supply.

However, in order to attract top talent, Employers must be committed to promoting gender diversity. Doing so will give you access to the entire talent pool as opposed to a restrictive selection: your job is to ensure the organisation is as attractive to female candidates as it is to male candidates.

Gaining and retaining a diverse customer base

Understanding your diverse customer base is the key in attracting new business and retaining your current clients. By fostering a culture of gender diversity and ensuring a healthy blend of talent from employees of all genders, you immediately gain deeper insight into your varied audience, allowing you to better shape your product or service to meet their needs. Once acquired, sustaining diversity in the workforce will provide your client-base with greater representation and lead to higher retention rates.

Reducing the costs of staff turnover

If an employee feels under-represented and as though their gender has a noticeable impact on the treatment they receive in the workplace, they will naturally lose motivation and commitment to your company, actively seeking out employers who have built positive reputations for inclusive cultures.

According to research from Gallup, companies with inclusive cultures experience 22% lower turnover rates due to increased morale, opportunity and equality. With the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimating cost of replacing a job-leaver in the UK to be at least £8,000-£12,000 per hire, promoting gender diversity is a clear path to boost employee engagement and retention.

The bottom-line impact of gender diversity in the workplace 

The business case for gender diversity in the workplace boils down to a simple truth: organisations combining the strengths of men and women will always out-perform their homogenous competitor due to higher levels of engagement and productivity in the workforce. Speaking on Saudi Arabia’s goal to become one of the world’s most competitive economies, Bill Gates stated: “If you're not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you're not going to get too close to the top.”

In order to reap the bottom-line benefits that diversity can bring, business leaders must focus on creating an engaged culture - one that sees gender equality as a priority, and promotes the high performance of both male and female employees.

If you’re planning your Recruitment drive for the new year and need support in ensuring you attract the right people for the right roles, get in touch. We’re here to help.