Women earn on average 13% less per hour than men in the EU. That gender pay disparity was measured by the European Commission in 2020, at which time the Commission also found that the gap has only changed minimally over the last decade.
“The gender pay gap measures a broader concept than pay discrimination and comprehends a large number of inequalities women face in access to work, progression and rewards,” the Commission says.
These include pay discrimination and the burden of additional responsibilities. Women have more work hours per week than men, but they also spend more hours on unpaid work, which can affect their paid employment choices.
A new directive to improve work-life balance in the EU entered adoption in the summer of this year, designed to set out minimum standards for paternity, parental and carers’ leave, for example.
The directive was also designed to increase the participation of women in the labour market. Overall, women’s employment rate in the EU is 10.8% lower than men’s, and only 68% of women with care responsibilities work – that compares to 81% of men with the same duties.
But systemic issues remain, such as the fact that there is a glass ceiling for women in the EU. Less than 8% of top companies’ CEOs are women, and women in management positions are paid 23% less than men.
Women also suffer from the ”broken rung”. It is a phenomenon where women in entry level positions are promoted to managerial positions at much lower rates than men, and was identified in research by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org. The joint study found that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.
Despite all this, Helen Ashton, CEO of management consultancy Shape Beyond and a former CFO of Asos plc, says it is essential for women to step into leadership roles.
Ashton, speaking at a recent Women in Business and Tech Conference in London said, “In the experience I’ve had, it’s pretty tricky to get into a leadership position as a woman. Whether we like it or not, if you ask somebody to describe what a leader would look like, they will tend to describe a middle-aged white man, usually quite attractive, tall, charismatic, forceful, very confident.”
But, she says, if we can get past the vision of a man, the issue goes away. “The reality is, people don’t really care whether you’re a male or a female. They just want to be led by somebody who’s inspirational and actually a good leader.”
Another issue that affects the climb up the management ladder is a stereotype around how women present themselves in the workplace. “I’ve been called too emotional, I’ve been called not emotional enough. I’ve been called an ice queen. There are so many different things that you tend to get called when you’re a woman,” Ashton says.
Ashton also says that women have leadership qualities in abundance. “Persuasion; female leaders are very good at persuading people, and we’re really willing to reinvent the rules. So, you know, we tend to kind of just go, ‘Yeah, about that, it kind of doesn’t work, there’s a better way of doing it, why wouldn’t we just try this?’”
She says women work well in values-driven organisations that ultimately deliver a better experience to everyone working there. “If you work in a sector that actually is quite hire and fire, and it doesn’t really focus on professional development, or team building or any of those things, then that’s difficult.”
Developing agility is her big key to future business success. “Agility comes from enabling people to get on and do what they need to do,” she says, adding, “I think it’s time for women’s leadership to really have its moment, it feels like the right time […] and organisations out there are absolutely crying out for it.”
If you’re looking for a new role, there are plenty of companies out there that understand this need. Salesforce, the world’s biggest CRM software company, has a specific programme in place for women returning to the workforce. It’s called Bring Women Back to Work, and helps those who have taken long career breaks in their journeys back into business within a new industry. Discover all open roles at Salesforce here.
Microsoft is a partner of the United Nations, and has pledged to support its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 initiatives adopted by member states in 2015 focused on creating a more inclusive, sustainable and equitable world by 2030. Through its Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Initiative, it partners with community organisations, like Women in Cloud (WIC), and via the WIC accelerator, the company supports women entrepreneurs in building and publishing their solutions to the commercial marketplace, too. Browse open roles at Microsoft.
Or check out ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company which was recently featured on a Forbes’ list of The World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies. You can browse all its open roles here.
For more remote working opportunities visit the Silicon Canals Job Board today
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