One of the ways we are recognising International Women’s Day is sharing with you our interview with Baroness Ruth Henig CBE whose many roles include Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords and President of The Security Institute.

Watch the Interview

 

Ruth’s observations are so accurate and reinforced by yesterday’s publication from The Equality and Human Rights Commission that shows quite clearly, that in spite of legislation, old fashioned attitudes to women at work persist. Women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace, numerous examples like those detailed on the

Pregnant then screwed website give accounts of senior women managers, in public and private sector organisations, being harassed because they become pregnant. It’s against the law but nevertheless these things are happening.  Challenging these attitudes and practices is the real work in progress.

Baroness Henig also reminded us that sometimes we go backwards not forwards in the pursuit of equality in the workplace, warning us not to assume that things are actually getting better.

We conducted some research ourselves last year following our attendance at the Northern Powerhouse Conference.  A conference that received a great deal of media attention, for all the wrong reasons, female representation as speakers and panellists was almost non-existent. We wanted to know how this could have happened in the 21st Century?  

 

Stand out findings for me were the very conscious recognition of the existence of unconscious bias but how little is being done to challenge and change deep-rooted attitudes and prejudices. Enduring old-fashioned views of what constitutes ‘good leadership’ were also highlighted, this persistent clinging to what is essentially the myth of the individual leader as lone hero, is a significant barrier to real gender equality in the workplace.  Research conducted by McKinsey and Grant Thornton present compelling evidence that diversity makes good business sense, evidence that is being ignored as easily as some organisations are ignoring equalities legislation.