Gender equality at work makes headlines once again

Gender equality at work makes headlines once again

Whether it was bonuses, boardrooms or Bond girls, gender equality at work has continued to grab headlines over the past few weeks.

First up was a report from accountancy firm Grant Thornton called ‘Women in Business – the Value of Diversity Report’ that found companies with at least one female executive on the board perform better than those without.

The firm’s study of companies in the UK, US and India showed that public companies with male-only executive directors ‘missed out on £430bn of investment returns last year’. Only one in 10 of the companies surveyed had female board executives. The UK’s share of the forfeited returns was £49bn or about 3% of GDP. In the US the amount was £373bn and in India it was £9bn.

The report sheds further light on the benefits of women in the boardroom as the Government released proposals for regulation that will see larger employers having to publish the amount awarded to men and women in bonuses as part of proposed legislation to reduce the gender pay gap.

The planned regulations will apply to businesses in England, Wales and Scotland with more than 250 employees. Women and equalities minister Nicky Morgan said the move was a "first step" but would "concentrate minds". The TUC said the measures should include medium-sized businesses and come with fines for non-compliance. In March, women held nearly a quarter of board positions at FTSE 100 companies, close to the target set by Lord Mervyn Davies in his 2011 review.

The plan for bonuses is the first of a number of "equality-boosting measures" to be set out in detail this week and hopefully introduced in the first half of 2016, according to Downing Street.

The combined impact demonstrates the positive effect women have at all stages of business and that creating opportunities for female decision makers should be central to a company strategy.

And on a lighter note, female empowerment is seemingly also reaching beyond the boardroom and into popular culture with actress Naomi Harris, who plays Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films, who said that the term ‘Bond Girl’ should be dropped and replaced with ‘Bond Women’ instead. However, it is unlikely that Downing Street, whether real of fictional, will be commenting on this any time soon.