RICS: More needs to be done for equal opportunities for women

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Some 50% of adults in the Midlands believe that women have fewer opportunities at work after returning from maternity leave, whilst only 20% believe that their CEO actively strives for gender equality, according to a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey.

The survey found that gender discrimination seems to culminate when women take a career break to have a family with half of British adults believing that there are fewer opportunities like promotion or pay rises at work, after returning from maternity leave than men in similar job roles.

Just over half of the working population identified as working for organisations led by males.

A fifth of those said they don’t believe their CEO actively strives for greater gender diversity or supports and champions gender equality initiatives and policies in the workplace.

The survey highlights the need for more to be done at senior level to drive cultural change and empower women.

The Women’s Business Council predicts that the UK could add 10%, equating to over £150 billion, to the country’s GDP by 2030 if all the women that wanted to work were employed.

Kelly Evans, founder of Lincoln-based Social Change, said: “Study after study has highlighted that both men and women have unconscious gender biases.

“Men are seen as more capable and women less so – especially if the woman is also a mother.

“We can put in place more legislation but I think leaders in the business community need to take a hard look in the mirror and address the judgements it makes about women and motherhood.

“Research has uncovered that if you have a male name you are more likely to secure a job but if you are a mother your chances of getting a job are reduced by 70% and this isn’t right.

“It is only when we are all willing to address our own immediate judgements and put in place practices to mitigate this we will start to see change. And it’s important we do change because in the long term encouraging women to work and lead is vital to ensure economic growth.

“As we face an increasingly ageing population and the resulting shortage of skilled workers, it is fundamental that we also depend on high female employment and high wage returns in order to manage the skills deficit.”

Professor Fiona Grant, Chair of RICS UK and Ireland Board said: “International Women’s Day is all about inspiring women.

“When we looked at the findings, significantly, 25% of young women surveyed believe they would have more career success under a female CEO, highlighting the importance of female role models in senior corporate positions.

“RICS recognises the importance of mentors and has recently set up a global mentoring partnership with female Chartered Surveyors in the UK and South Africa to share insights between a network of women in the industry.

“Businesses need to listen to the next generation of leaders, who are actively seeking a diverse and flexible working environment.

“When choosing a job role, over a fifth of young people believe the most important factor is whether an organisation has a diverse range of employees.

“Furthermore, nearly three quarters of young people believe it is important that CEOs encourage gender diversity across their business.”