The approach to International Women’s Day always seems to be met with a mixed bag of emotions: from panic across boardrooms as businesses struggle to come up with ideas to celebrate it, to wry cynicism on the part of women who question the day’s actual usefulness and impact. While Nike’s IWD-themed ad featuring Serena Williams and the slogan ‘Until We All Win’ is clearly a great bit of marketing, it’s hard to overlook the fact this is a business taking the opportunity to cash in.
Put bluntly, making progress is much more than about one branded day — as the daily work of organisations such as the Fawcett Society and the vast numbers of women who marched on Sunday prove. In the 100 years since (some) women won the vote, we have not yet progressed as much as we could and should have.
Although the UK gender pay gap has shrunk slightly in recent years, in 2017 it was still 9.1% (from 10.5% in 2011). Men had 72.8% of the full-time jobs in the highest paid occupation group (chief execs and senior officials), and on average earned £11.99 more per hour than women doing the same work.
However, if International Women’s Day achieves one thing, it’s that the occasion provides an opportunity for businesses across the world to reflect.
At TotallyMoney, here’s why I think we have at least three reasons to celebrate on IWD 2018.
1) We are pushing for gender diversity
The recent launch of the Tech She Can Charter would not be the first to shed light on the fact that tech is a sector where men significantly outnumber women. If you asked around for suggestions, Finance would also likely be mentioned.
As a FinTech company, then, we might be expected to suffer a similar fate — and to some extent this is true. But it’s something we are always consciously working to correct, from attraction and recruitment of female candidates through to retention. Where possible, we always request a 50/50 split of CVs. Plus, a recent hire to our Commercial team means that for the first time in a while, this team of 10 staff will be half men and half women.
Working with an HR consultant, we acknowledged there were several changes we could make to help us retain female staff, including improving our flexible working policy, as well as ensuring that our culture and values really reflect the diverse and inclusive environment we want to create.
2) We are creating a working culture and environment that champions women
By using Peakon to collect staff feedback each month, we can keep track of our staff engagement levels and quickly step in if any issues are highlighted. The software also means we can compare the engagement of female staff in comparison to male staff. Both groups have an Engagement score of 8.1 at the moment, so we can be confident the experience of women at TotallyMoney is comparable to that of the men.
Moreover, in the last three months women have scored us highly for ‘Growth’ at 0.7 above the industry benchmark, ‘Organisational Fit’ at 0.6 above the benchmark, and ‘Reward’ at 0.6 above the benchmark — with all three drivers scoring higher than the male staff. Hopefully, this means we are successfully creating a working culture and environment that champions women, which can only help us attract and retain more fantastic female candidates in the future.
3) We are supporting women outside of our business
Finally, our recent partnership with Benefacto to provide employer-supported volunteering (where staff have two paid days per year to volunteer) means that we can support women outside of the business, by offering our time and helping them gain skills. Next week, I will join the team at Dress for Success: a charity that provides disadvantaged women with smart clothing for interviews and work, as well as providing interview training to boost their confidence.
Another scheme we are able to work with is City Gateway’s Women’s Programmes, an initiative working with women across Tower Hamlets to build confidence and skills and help them find employment. Their Literacy Lunch, for example, helps non-English speaking women to practise in a supportive environment.
So, if you’re reading this and wondering what positive and practical impact you can make this International Women’s Day, hopefully those charities might give you a few ideas (especially the Fawcett Society, if you haven’t heard of it before).
In the meantime, while the struggle continues, there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful on 8 March 2018.