Each year, International Women’s Day provides the space to acknowledge and celebrate women’s achievements. It gives society a platform to further promote women’s successes and build a community for future generations to see.
While we have certainly come a long way in promoting equity between the sexes, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Our most recent Salary Survey shared some interesting insights into women’s roles in the Manufacturing and Technical Operations, Procurement, Sales and Customer Service, and Supply Chain and Logistics sectors.
With just 30% of all survey respondents identifying as female, it shows a disparity in representation across the industry. However, it was positive to see the similarity in numbers between those who had received a pay increase over the last 12 months 57% of females and 59% of males.
In terms of thoughts about their salary rates, 47% of females thought they were being paid industry average while 27% thought it was above average and a further 26% under the average.
Being taken seriously in a male-dominated workforce can be a real challenge for me as a woman. I have experienced gender biases and stereotypes that led to my ideas and contributions being overlooked or dismissed, particularly at the beginning of my career.
To establish credibility, I learned to assert myself more confidently, demonstrate my expertise and knowledge, and constantly work to prove my value through my work. Finding allies and mentors within the workplace has also been crucial. Overall, it has driven me to work harder and not be afraid of being seen.
At Pace, we are a female-run recruitment business. In my role, I actively challenge gender biases and stereotypes, and speak up and advocate for myself and other women in my business and industry. I have also recognised that you also can’t generalise women as having the same experience there is intersectionality which means you need to further delve into the experience of women who might come from a marginalised background.
By showing empathy, and awareness and being proactive in offering thorough and considered solutions to be inclusive, I hope to help break down barriers. I aim for creating a more inclusive and equitable work environment where everyone's contributions are valued and respected.
First of all, we have to make leadership roles safe spaces where women can thrive. We should also value feminine traits in business to the same level we perceive masculine traits and reprioritise what we see as crucial workplace skill sets. Women are still disproportionately represented as caregivers and this could be seen in our Salary Survey.
When asked about workplace priorities, women rated Work Hours Flexibility as the most important followed by Access to the Right Tools and Paid Parental Leave. Meanwhile, for men, the priority was Access to the Right Tools, Work Hours Flexibility, and WFH Flexibility.
Once we reprioritise workplace skill sets, I do believe women will feel more encouraged to pursue positions in senior leadership and entrepreneurship which is crucial for creating gender-diverse and inclusive organisations. We need to make mentorship accessible, offer upskilling programs to women, provide equal pay and highlight the journeys of successful women in businesses as an example for other women wanting to progress their careers.
You need to start your journey with complete self-belief. Treat self-belief as a muscle that needs to be trained before you even begin to act on your goals. Surround yourself with support, because whilst you can do it alone, it’s a more enjoyable journey progressing with the support and advice of others who inspire you or care about you. And finally, be proactive and be seen.
You need to build relationships and whilst you must have healthy boundaries, I will always advocate for saying yes to opportunities at the start of your career so you can get as much exposure to learning different things. As you become more experienced you can tailor what you say yes to, but initially just put your hand up and give it a go.
Embracing diversity transcends just being the right thing to do, it drives value to your bottom line. Right now, I think the biggest thing businesses should be aspiring towards is innovation. And the best way to drive creativity and new ideas is by having a diverse workforce. People from different backgrounds can come together and bring their unique perspectives forward to create a company strategy.
With diverse minds within an organisation, it should allow for solutions to be catered to a diverse customer base. Being inclusive and having diverse representation across all levels of an organisation can also help reduce biases and discrimination. It can encourage respect, communication of ideas, problem-solving, and acceptance. Talent is the epicentre of every business and you can only retain talent when you create a safe, collaborative, and progressive workforce. Embracing diversity is a huge factor here.
The best advice I’ve been given is to stop saying “I have to do this” and start saying “I get to do this”. You have the power to change your perspective and as much as I don’t want to dismiss the societal pressures potentially holding you back, you can absolutely take charge, control how you respond to situations, and create your future. We have assumptions and biases that can limit our perspective. But empowering ourselves and changing these perspectives can help us change those barriers and lead our lives with gratitude.
I grew up watching Oprah with my grandma and was captivated by her ability to not only connect with people but assert herself and her opinions when needed. She has faced so much adversity in her life but comes across refreshed and positive with a growth mindset. Against all odds, she is the most successful person in her field which is so narrow and at that time, did not embrace and encourage women of colour.
Julia Gillard is another woman who inspires me. She was the first woman to serve as the Prime Minister of Australia, from 2010 to 2013. During her time in office, she implemented a range of policies aimed at improving gender equality, including the introduction of a paid parental leave scheme and the establishment of the Office for Women.
If you’re looking for advice on how best to ensure diversity and equity in your workplace, please give me or one of my colleagues a call. With more than 30 years of industry experience, we are a quality and people-focused recruitment agency specialising in Manufacturing and Technical Operations, Procurement, Sales and Customer Service and Supply Chain and Logistics roles.