March 8th is International Women’s Day.

It is the one day in the international calendar for women everywhere to collectively celebrate their sisterhood and put the emphasis firmly on women’s rights.

And did you know, that the very first Women’s Day was organised by the Socialist Party of America in 1909, or that the in the Soviet Union, March 8th became a national holiday following woman gaining suffrage in 1917? The UN finally got their act together and adopted Women’s Day in 1975, turning it in to the international event we see today.  And now, forty plus years later and on a global scale we see celebrations, rally’s and activities taking place to mark this special day for women everywhere.

Here at Your Wellspace we are proud to show our support for International Women’s Day, and firmly advocate equality for all.

We believe that the workplace is a better place to be when the culture is one of equality, and whilst equal rights has certainly come a long way, we still believe employers could do more for women in the workplace.

Here are our three most important factors we believe contribute to better equality in the workplace. Want to find out more? Read on…

Balance for Better in the Workplace

The theme this year for International Women’s Day is Balance for Better, and the celebrations and theme run for the whole year, not just on one day!

In other words, let’s try to build a more gender balanced world; where we have gender balance in governments, gender balance in sport, gender balance in popular culture, gender balance in the boardroom and of course, gender balance in the workplace.

It seems strange to think that this even has to be a thing in 2019, but If we told you that out of the 100 most popular songs in the charts in 2018 only 13, Yes, THIRTEEN, were credited to female acts, which is the absolute antithesis of equality, is down from 35 in 2008!

Or that in the U.K. men earn on average 9% more than women, and that women would receive an approximate £6300.00annual pay rise just to close the gap!

But let’s not focus too much on negativity here, that’s not what we are about at all! Let’s look at what we can do to redress the balance in the workplace with regards to gender equality, and why it’s an improvement for all of us in society.

1          Equal Work, Equal Pay

Did you know, that it is actually illegal to pay somebody less for doing the same work as a colleague? That’s right, and whilst it isn’t mutually exclusive to gender discrimination, it is the majority of women who do not get paid an equal salary for doing work of equal value. This is not great for the balance of the workplace and can foster ill feeling amongst staff.

So, it’s best to have an equal and transparent pay structure, because employees can and will find out, which at best could leave you with some serious egg on your face and hastily arranged pay rises, or at worst face the courts in a tribunal. Our advice is to pay salaries based on the work people do rather than their gender; you can find out more about equal pay, including the Equal Pay Act, here.

2 Ensure an Equal Work Life Balance

Woman rising up from water to represent equal work life balance for International Women's Day 2019

Nothing, and we mean nothing, can ever prepare you fully for parenthood and the impact it will have on your working life. And although times are changing, the burden of responsibility still generally falls on the mother to organise the childcare. Add to this holding down a successful career and quality personal time and you begin to realise why getting an equal work life balance is so fundamental to gender equality in the 21st Century.

Employers can go a long way to supporting parents manage their career and their personal lives effectively. Introducing flexi time, so that working mums or dads can drop their children off at school without always being fearful of arriving late for work is a good start, offering childcare vouchers to encourage mothers to return to work after maternity leave is another, and don’t forget having equal paternity rights too.

Because International Women’s Day is about equal rights for everybody, to make a Balance for Better, for all.

3          #MeToo

Two women representing International Women's Day 2019

And so, to the elephant in the room. Workplace harassment and discrimination against women is still sadly all too familiar for many, and what one person might see as a bit of friendly ‘banter’, might prove particularly traumatic and hurtful to an office colleague.

As an employer it is your legal responsibility to ensure this doesn’t happen. Discrimination and harassment are both illegal, and it is wise to have a robust company policy that outlines how you will deal with any situation, and to take any claims of harassment seriously.

If you dismiss an incident as trivial, this can have lasting repercussions throughout the organisation, firstly by making the organisation look complicit in the behaviour, and secondly, you run the risk of the employee who is the victim of workplace harassment or discrimination developing serious mental health issues and potentially being off work ill for a long time.

Contact us

So, if you are thinking of what you can do to show your support for International Women’s Day, or if you just want to make your workplace more inclusive you can contact us here to discuss any of the ideas we’ve suggested to achieve Balance for a Better workplace, or if you prefer call us on 0808 178 0748.

We have an expert team of equality focused, health and wellbeing professionals who will be delighted to chat to you and offer guidance surrounding any of the issues that can impact on equality. After all, improving our corporate health leads to a better work life balance, and what can be more equal than that?