CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome

The Impacts Of Imposter Syndrome On The Gender Pay Gap And What To Do About It With Clare Josa

Imposter Syndrome is already an issue for leaders, but the stigma imposed by gender only amplifies it. This can manifest itself in your organization in many ways, one of which is through the gender pay gap. Today, joining your host Sherry Bevan is the leading authority on Imposter Syndrome in the UK, Clare Josa. She speaks on her landmark research study about Imposter Syndrome to clearly define the phenomena and its impacts on the gender pay gap. She also discusses concrete examples of how it affects employees and leaders in the workplace. Plus, Clare shares tips for companies on how to be more proactive in dealing with Imposter Syndrome to promote an equitable workplace and empower its workforce. Tune in to this insightful discussion to learn more!

Listen to the podcast here:

https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=20671205

The Impacts Of Imposter Syndrome On The Gender Pay Gap And What To Do About It With Clare Josa

I’m excited, because in this episode we’re exploring how the imposter syndrome affects your gender pay gap. I’m delighted to be talking to Clare Josa. She is the UK‘s leading authority on imposter syndrome. She’s the author of eight books and an expert in the neuroscience and psychology of performance. Her original training as an engineer specializing in Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing means her inspirational approach is grounded in practical common sense, creating breakthroughs, not burnout. Naturally, we’re going to be talking about imposter syndrome and I hope you get something valuable from this to help you close your gender pay gap. Clare, welcome. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you so much for having me on the show, Sherry.

I’m delighted to have got you on because you’ve got so much experience but I’ve thought for those people reading, who maybe don’t know what we’re talking about when we refer to the imposter syndrome, perhaps you could start by giving us your definition of what it means.

Imposter syndrome is the secret fear that people are going to find out that we’re not good enough, that we’re faking it, that they made a mistake hiring us, that we don’t belong. It’s something that keeps us awake at 3:00 in the morning. I often define it with my clients, my students and my readers as the secret fear of others judging us, the way we’re judging ourselves. It’s different to self-doubt. What we found in the 2019 imposter syndrome research study is self-doubt is about what we can and can’t do. It’s about confidence, skills, and capabilities. Imposter syndrome is about who we think we are. It’s down there at the identity level, much deeper. Somebody running self-doubt might think, “I messed up that presentation.” If you’re running imposter syndrome as well, you’ll think, “What if they find out I’m not good enough?”

It’s that difference between who you are and what you think about yourself, your confidence in your skills and your experience.

I talk about the imposter syndrome gap as being the gap between who we see ourselves as being and who we think we need to be to do, achieve something or step up for a goal because sometimes we can run. That’s the self-sabotage of imposter syndrome kicking in. Sometimes we can’t. We build over that gap, what I call the bridge of coping strategies. How will I succeed despite imposter syndrome? It takes huge amounts of energy. It causes anxiety. It means that we’re hypervigilant, that’s fight-flight-freeze response is constantly engaged, looking for threats. We can cope most of the time but if something major comes up like pandemic, working remotely from home whilst juggling educating children or having to handle being the only one in the office when everybody else is remote. This thing can mean the previous dormant imposter syndrome comes out to play with gusto.

What led you to become an expert in this area?

I started out in Mechanical Engineering. My Master’s degree was in Mechanical Engineering. In Germany, you don’t get much more left-brain than that but I’d always been passionate about how people ticked. After fifteen years in engineering, I studied to become an NLP trainer. I moved to become the head of market research at one of the world’s most disruptive brands, which was great. That was the link between the engineers, the marketing team and the customers. It’s like a three-way translator. There came a point where I was studying more about how to help people change their lives, how to help them to help themselves. Looking at what I knew from Six Sigma about how to take the fluff out of those processes and make them more reliable and concrete. Back in 2003, I left, set up my own business. One of the things I was doing back then was executive mentoring.

Imposter syndrome is the secret fear of others judging us the way we’re judging ourselves.

My first client had this weird thing. They were confident. Everybody thought they had the act together and it was 3:00 the morning they were dying inside. My next client and then my next client and it got me researching what is going on. The coaching skills I’ve learned weren’t touching it. I needed something deeper. That was several years ago. The rest is they say is history. I have spent the last several years specializing in the imposter syndrome work that classic tools don’t touch.

We talked about what the imposter syndrome is but what we haven’t talked about is who experiences it. Who has it?

Everyone. There’s no it’s men, it’s women. There’s no you’re old, you’re young. We found in the 2019 research study that 52% of female respondents had struggled with it daily or regularly in 2020 alone, to an extent that it impacted their work and their home life. The figure for men was 49%. Pretty much the same. The difference was how they handled it. Women were twenty times more likely than men to go and talk to someone to ask for help. Men were five times more likely than women to turn to alcohol, drugs and medication to push on through. The other huge thing and this is relevant to the gender pay gap, the male respondents tended to do that feel the fear and do it anyway thing. Pushing it down, pushing on through, “I’m terrified. It’s causing me anxiety. I’m drinking too much but I’m going for that promotion anyway.”

They would get to that stage. When they got promoted, very often, the job title gave them the external validation they needed to mean that they could settle into it. What we found with the female respondents is they would hold back stepping up. They would even volunteer other people if they got the tap on the shoulder to go for the next role. Thirty-seven percent in 2020 alone had not asked for a pay raise they knew they deserved as a result of imposter syndrome.

Sixty percent we found were routinely not taking credit for what they’d achieved, even doing that classic, “I had but,” if they were praised volunteering self-criticism, meaning that they want not to top of mind for those promotions and opportunities. They were not letting their light shine because, for them, the emotional side of imposter syndrome was simply strong. It held them back. It caused them to subconsciously self-sabotage rather than step up to the next level and pushing on through it for them was much less of an option.

I was about to ask, what did your research tell us about how imposter syndrome affects the gender pay gap? You answered it succinctly there but what more does your research tell us about the imposter syndrome and the gender pay gap and how it has an impact?

We found that there were three hidden drivers of the gender pay gap, which most organizations aren’t aware of, they can’t address. One of them was the alpha male competitive culture at the most senior levels in too many organizations still. There comes to a point where if a woman gets promoted beyond that level, she either has to change how she behaves to become more of a man or she has to find ways to cope with being in a highly competitive alpha male environment.

Even some of the most heart-centered organizations I’ve worked with in those top couple of levels, it’s suddenly a complete culture change. Women don’t feel like they belong. They feel that fear of, “What if they realize they made a mistake hiring me or putting me in this role?” They also found at those senior levels that the spotlight that was on them for being a female in that role rather than a person in that role meant that their secret fears of, “What if they realize I’m not good enough?” It was like having a supernova shining on them. That was one aspect.

CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: Imposter syndrome is the secret fear that people are going to find out that we’re not good enough, that we’re faking it, that they made a mistake hiring us, that we don’t belong.

 

The second factor that was driving the gender pay gap that we found was the lack of flexible working. The expectation that at the more senior levels, you’re going to do the longer days, you’re going to do the overnight when we can travel, that you’ve got to wave goodbye to school concerts and all that thing. Many women felt they didn’t want to have to choose. Even if a company offered flexible working because you’ve got this internal dialogue where you’re judging yourself and you’re worried that others are doing it too. If you accepted the flexible working, you were worried that people were judging you and that somehow would see you as not pulling your weight not being good enough. That was factor two. Factor three was all of the self-sabotage that comes in there from imposter syndrome.

If you imagine, you’re going to step up to a leadership role, you’re going to take responsibility and you are going to be visible at that level. If it’s 3:00 in the morning, you’re lying awake and your inner critic is telling you all the reasons why you’re not good enough, it’s extremely hard to feel congruent and safe doing that. One of the other things we found is that at senior levels, women were likely to apply for a promotion externally to leave a company they love because they were scared of what they perceived as the shame of failure if it became public knowledge that they’d gone for a role that they then didn’t get.

I hear that with a lot of technology companies, where women have applied for promotion and not got it. They’ve then left the organization or they haven’t even applied internally because they’re worried about failing in their eyes. They decide to go for that promotion outside the company, which means you’re losing good female talent.

Somebody else is gaining from the hard work that you’ve put in working with that person and developing them over those years.

We’ve got these three hidden drivers that often companies aren’t particularly aware of. If they’re hidden and you don’t know you’ve got them then there’s not an awful lot that you can only manage what you can see, can’t you?

It’s one of the reasons why I’m passionate about this and my podcast that you are sharing is important because secretly, we know if we have an alpha male culture at the senior level. We will never admit it to the shareholders and we don’t have to wash our dirty linen in public but we know. Secretly, we know whether we’re expecting our leadership team to work hours. That means they’re choosing between career and children, loved ones, care, responsibilities or having a life. By raising the awareness and asking the question, if we were honest, we took our emotions and our biases out of this, are any of these three factors at play? With that third factor of imposter syndrome, there’s something that a lot of companies have been doing that is well-intentioned but it’s making it worse, which is giving women that helping hand. It will seem as quotas or positive discrimination and it’s not being phrased like that.

If you take somebody who secretly believes they don’t belong, that a mistake was made hiring them, who’s scared they’re going to be found out as not good enough and a fraud and you give them that pushups the next level then it amplifies those feelings. They can then look around. I remember when I had imposter syndrome in my engineering days, I was promoted extremely young to senior engineer. The rumor that went around the factories are, “She got the job because she’s a girl.” My imposter syndrome meant I believed it. It can undermine the integrity and respect of female leaders if you are in any way saying to have given them the advantage. I talk about equity instead of equality.

There was a fantastic meme on social media. The dad taking two children to a football match. One was older than the other they couldn’t see over the barrier. The dad got two equal boxes. One child could see over, the other one still couldn’t. Equity is giving that second child the box that they need so they can both see but this does not come in the form of quotes and positive discrimination. It comes in the form of, what does this person needs to be able to thrive? Do they need support in ditching imposter syndrome? Do they need us to put serious work into the flexibility of hours? Do they need us to create a senior-level environment and culture where anybody can thrive with God as if their gender, their ethnicity, their socioeconomic class? Looking at what you need to do to create equity so that it’s fair for everybody rather than giving people that helping hand creates this feeling of resentment.

Make asking for help with imposter syndrome as acceptable as asking for help with Microsoft Excel.

I’ve got clients where there were men who thought they were about to get the next promotion. A woman then got it out of the blue. Everybody knew it was because they’d been told they had to have a quote on the board. That woman had to leave because nobody would respect her authority, even though she might have been the best candidate. We have to be careful at how we handle this, how we communicate it and how we’re being seen to be fair.

What can companies do then in practical terms to stop that imposter syndrome affecting the gender pay gap?

One of the first things is that we need to be training leaders in imposter syndrome in being able to spot the signs. We’re good at hiding it when it’s running because we feel ashamed. It’s an identity level. It’s about who I am as a person. We put a lot of effort into hiding it. By the time we ask for help with it, it means it’s got to a stage where that bridge of coping strategies is no longer enough. It takes courage. Training managers to be able to spot the warning signs. For example, one of the things I do is I train imposter syndrome first status in an organization so they can be a point of contact because it’s removing the taboo. I’m on a mission to make asking for help with imposter syndrome as acceptable as asking for help with Microsoft Excel macros.

Nobody would think twice if they suddenly had to do something complex on Microsoft Office but saying, “I need training on that.” We need to get there with imposter syndrome because it can lead to mental health issues, anxiety, depression, stress, burnout. It can trigger all of these. Having that HR, in-house coaches, leaders, line managers, having the basic awareness, having key points of contact in the business who can help, you can do more than just offer tea and sympathy. Also, having programs that give people practical tools because not everybody needs a full-blown, “Let’s dive in and deal with imposter syndrome.” Sometimes it might be training in how to choose which thoughts to feed. How to be able to press pause on that inner dialogue? I have my Inner Critic Bootcamp program that they can study for that in six weeks, which helps to stop the cycle.

Sometimes they might want to dive in more deeply and work with somebody. You might want some in-house mentors who’ve trained in the deeper work to clear out imposter syndrome particularly if you have people who are stepping up from line management to leadership roles. What triggers imposter syndrome particularly is any shift in identity. For example, becoming a parent, returning from maternity leave. We see it a lot with university students when they graduate. Becoming a leader, a shift in identity opens up that imposter syndrome gap between who you see yourself as being and who you think you need to be. Actively putting imposter syndrome clearing programs into your leadership development strategy, meaning that anybody who is running it without shame, without taboo, without judgment can have a route they can follow that says, “I want to clear this out.” They get to fulfill their potential.

One of the things that happen if somebody gets promoted because part of them is saying, “I want to do this role.” Part of them is screaming, “What if they find me out?” They can turn into a micro-managing boss in as little as a few weeks. The symptoms, the stress, and the anxiety of imposter syndrome can be pushed on down through the team quickly. It can turn a rising star into someone that’s creating a toxic team without even realizing.

Which is another big issue for organizations because that will create other employee engagement issues and employee retention issues.

If anybody in that team was running imposter syndrome, they were at the coping stage and it was dormant then it can trigger it for them as well. In terms of the gender pay gap, having that clear strategy is yes, you would give your team members the development they need to get ready to be leaders. That is not just the practical external strategies. That also has to be the inside work so that they can let go of whatever might be holding them back from becoming a leader that inspires people to thrive and create successful, happy teams.

CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: It can undermine the integrity and respect of female leaders if you are in any way saying to have given them the advantage.

 

This is what we all want at the end of the day because it means that you improve productivity, profitability and your reputation as an employer in the workplace. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about this. I know I could talk all day on this topic because your knowledge and expertise are valuable. If people want to get in touch with you and find out more about what you do, how can they get hold of you?

The research study white paper that might be useful for readers is at DitchingImposterSyndrome.com/research. I’m on LinkedIn, @ClareJosa. There’s only one of me on normal days. My main website is ClareJosa.com. That’s where you can find all resources. I’ve got things like an advice guide that can be useful for someone who does have imposter syndrome. That’s completely free. That’s at ClareJosa.com/advice. That helps you to know what to say, to know which mistakes to avoid and to be able to start supporting that internal discussion to remove the imposter syndrome taboo and get people to support that they need.

Thank you so much to my guest, Clare. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about imposter syndrome and how this can impact the gender pay gap. I hope you, as readers, have enjoyed reading this episode, too. Thank you so much, Clare.

Thank you so much, Sherry.

If this has sparked a thought in your mind, I’d love you to come and book an exploratory chat with me to give you an opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work I do at technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talents that you can close the gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thank you for reading.

Important Links:

About Clare Josa

Clare Josa is the UK’s leading authority on Imposter Syndrome, the author of eight books, and an expert in the neuroscience and psychology of performance.

Her original training as an engineer, specialising in Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, means her inspirational approach is grounded in practical common sense, creating breakthroughs not burnout.

CGP 8 | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives

Initiatives And Actions You Can Do To Close The Gender Pay Gap

Some women still get paid less than men for the same work in a company. That’s the hard truth that’s still happening nowadays. In this episode, Sherry Bevan gives a broad overview of all the different approaches used by organizations that want to strengthen their female talent pipeline to close the gender pay gap. She dives deep into various initiatives and actions that you can take in your organization, based on whether the evidence tells us it works or not.

Also in this episode:

  • Your last chance to book a place on the Executive Round Table on Tuesday, 5 October!
  • A brief summary of the four main causes
  • A tour of the initiatives to close the gender pay gap based on the paper published by the Government Equalities Office

Listen to the podcast here:

Initiatives And Actions You Can Do To Close The Gender Pay Gap

Thank you so much for joining me. I would love you to come back next episode. To make that even easier for yourself, you need to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player. I don’t know about you but I’m noticing more and more people going back into the office. The trains and the roads are busier, and I’m hoping that means that the local businesses who rely on the commuters are starting to feel that pressure ease up too.

As to me, I’m super excited about what’s coming up in October 2021, and especially when I’m hosting an executive round table on the impact of hybrid working on the Gender Pay Gap in the technology sector. Visibility in the workplace has always been important, having that strong personal brand so that you develop a professional reputation has been an expert in your domain or your field.

Although, we do know that in some organizations or even in some teams, visibility in the past and now as well has also been about presenteeism. What we do know is that the hybrid work model is most here to stay. We also know that those more likely to want to work from home in that hybrid work model are people with disabilities, parents of young children, and women. I’m wondering, how will hybrid working affect the visibility of women, in particular, in your organization?

Does it mean they’ll be less likely to get noticed because they’re more likely to be working from home, to get promoted or to move up the career ladder? In turn, how will that affect your gender pay gap? These are some of the questions that I’m going to be discussing with a small group of HR leaders from other technology companies, including Sky, Microsoft, Sage, so that together we will have the opportunity to learn from each other about what’s working and what’s not in the hybrid work model and discuss the potential impact on the gender pay gap. There is still about time to get involved.

If you’d love to join us on the 5th of October 2021 at the executive round table, reach out to me. For now, let’s get into the show. In this episode, I wanted to give you a broad overview of all the different approaches and initiatives that are used by a whole range of organizations that want to strengthen their female talent pipeline so that they close the gender pay gap. Before we look at the different initiatives that you could implement, first, let’s take a couple of moments to think about the main causes of the gender pay gap.

Four Main Causes Of Gender Pay Gap

If we look at papers published by The Fawcett Society, they suggest that there are four main causes and these are discrimination, unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labor market, and men in the most senior roles. If we start by looking at discrimination, it’s illegal but some women still get paid less than men for the same work. There’s a lot of discrimination, particularly around pregnancy maternity leave. Pregnant Then Screwed estimates at 54,000 women lose or are forced to leave their jobs every year, simply for getting pregnant.

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: When you put together a short list of qualified candidates, whether you’re recruiting for a new hire or working on your promotions round, make sure that more than one woman is included.

There’s research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Department for Business in 2016. That showed that more than 3/4 of pregnant women and new mothers, that’s the equivalent of 390,000 women, experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year. That is 1 of the 4 main causes of the gender pay gap.

The next one to think about then is unequal caring responsibilities. Women play a greater role in caring for children, as well as for sick or elderly relatives. As a result, more women work part-time. We know that part-time jobs are typically lower paid with fewer opportunities to make progress in your career. In the divided labor market, women are still more likely to be in low-paid and low-skilled jobs affecting labor market segregation. Eighty percent of those working in the low-paid care and leisure sector, for example, are women.

You might think that this divided labor market doesn’t affect the technology sector but I encourage you to go back to the interview of Jo Stansfield in episode four when we talked about the hierarchy that exists in the technology sector with women more likely to be in the lowest status roles. The final cause is men in the most senior roles. Men make up the majority of those in the highest-paid and most senior roles. For example, only 5% of FTSE 100 CEO are women.

What You Can Do

That’s a brief overview of the four main causes of the gender pay gap, but what can you do about it to close the gender pay gap in your organization? First and foremost, you don’t close the gender pay gap by simply focusing on pay. It’s more complicated than that. In my experience, there are three key areas to look at, how you attract staff, how you develop those staff, and retention, so how you keep and engage those staff. The thing is you can’t do everything at once. It’s important to prioritize where you’re going to spend your time, energy and budget.

Perhaps one of the most important things in order for any initiative to be successful is to get the support and the buy-in at the most senior levels of the organization. You can do that by demonstrating the business benefits. How does it affect profitability, productivity and reputation? There are lots of business benefits to increasing gender diversity and inclusion but we’re not going to be looking at those. We will look at those in a future episode.

While I could break this down into how you attract, develop, and retain your female talent, I’ve wanted this episode to be much more action-focused. What I’m going to do is I’m going to share the learnings from a fabulous resource that I highly recommend on the government website published by the Government Equalities Office. If you’ve got time to read it, I encourage you to start with the paper called Reducing the gender pay gap and improving gender equality in organisations: Evidence-based actions for employers.

In order for any initiative to be successful, it has to get the support and the buy-in at the most senior levels of the organization.

Initiatives That Work

First, I’m going to talk through the actions and initiatives where there are published quality evidence that these initiatives work, which means that you start to close your gender pay gap when you start to implement these initiatives. This is from the published research, the actions that are known to have had a positive impact in the real world.

The first thing then is to include multiple women in the shortlist for recruitment and promotions. This initiative then is about ensuring that when you put together a shortlist of qualified candidates, whether you’re recruiting for a new hire or you’re working on your promotions round, you need to make sure that more than one woman is included. What we do know from the published research is that a shortlist with only one woman doesn’t increase the chance of a woman being selected. It’s about having multiple women on those shortlists.

Number two, then is about looking at using skills-based assessment tasks in recruitment. Rather than relying only on interviews when you’re recruiting, what you can do is to ask candidates to perform tasks that they will be expected to perform in the role that they are applying for. You then use their performance on those tasks to assess their suitability for the role. What’s important is that you standardize those tasks and how they are scored to ensure fairness across candidates. That one is about using skills-based assessment tasks in recruitment.

Sticking with the recruitment and promotion idea then, the next idea for you is to use structured interviews for recruitment and promotions. As an HR professional, you know that structured and unstructured interviews both have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s much more likely that unfair bias will creep in and influence decisions in an unstructured interview.

Whereas if you go down the structured interview route, this will ask exactly the same questions of all the candidates in a predetermined order and format. It means that you can grade the responses using a pre-specified, standardized criterion. That means that the responses are comparable and you reduce the impact of that unconscious bias. Staying with the attraction theme then, the next one is to encourage you to encourage salary negotiation by showing salary ranges on your job ads.

We know that women are less likely to negotiate their pay. As a leadership consultant, when I work with women on a one-to-one basis, salary negotiation, the when, the how, and the if always comes up. There are lots of reasons why women are less likely to negotiate on salary. It’s partly because women are put off because if they’re not sure what a reasonable offer is, they don’t negotiate.

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: Women are less likely to negotiate their pay. It’s partly because if they’re not sure what a reasonable offer is, they don’t negotiate.

Therefore, you can make a difference by clearly communicating the salary range on offer for a particular role to encourage women to negotiate their salary. This helps your applicant know what they can reasonably expect. In addition, if the salary for a role is negotiable, you need to state that clearly because that can also encourage women to negotiate. When women don’t negotiate and they end up with a lower salary, it means that longer-term, they’re going to end up with smaller bonuses and pay rises, which are typically done as a percentage of that start salary.

If women negotiate their salaries more often, they’ll end up with salaries that more closely match the salaries of men. That means that you’re going to have an impact on your gender pay gap. The next one then is to think about introducing transparency to the processes for promotion, pay and reward. Transparency means being open about those processes, your policies, and the criteria for decision-making, which means that employees are clear about what’s involved and that managers understand that their decisions need to be objective and evidence-based because those decisions can be reviewed by others.

When you introduce transparency to promotion, pay, and reward processes, it can reduce pay inequalities, which means that in turn, you’ll start to close your gender pay gap. The final one in this section on what we know has a positive impact, it’s about appointing diversity managers and/or appointing or creating a diversity task force. Diversity managers and task forces monitor the talent management processes, such as recruitment or promotions, and also diversity within the organization.

Having a diversity manager or a task force can reduce bias decisions in recruitment and promotion because people who make those decisions know that their decisions may be reviewed. It’s that accountability that can improve the representation of women in your organization. When you’re thinking about your diversity managers, there should be somebody who has a senior or executive role within the organization. They need to have visibility of your internal data, and they need to be in the position and have your authority to ask for more information on why decisions were made so that they feel empowered to develop and implement diversity strategies and policies.

Initiatives That Show Promise

Let’s move on to think about the actions that from the research, they have promise but they need further research to get more evidence on their effectiveness and implementation. The first one is to think about improving workplace flexibility for men and women. Advertise and offer all jobs as having flexible working options, such as part-time work or remote working, or hybrid working, job sharing, or compressed hours. The more that you talk about your flexible working policies, the more likely that women will fly in the first place. Often, when I work with women on a one-to-one basis, if flexible working doesn’t get mentioned anywhere on the company’s website or anywhere on the job description, they will often talk themselves out of even applying.

Allow people to work flexibly where it’s possible so it’s not just a policy but it’s happening on the ground, so to speak. Encourage your senior-level leaders to role model working flexibly, and to champion flexible working. If they work themselves flexibly, encourage them to talk about it so that others see that this is a normal way of working, even if you’re in a senior position. Finally, workplace flexibility is about encouraging men to work flexibly that it’s not seen as a female-only benefit. It’s not just something that women want.

The gender pay gap widens dramatically after women have children. This could be reduced if men and women share childcare more equally.

The next one in this section then is to encourage the uptake of shared parental leave. We see that the gender pay gap widens dramatically after women have children. However, this could be reduced if men and women were able to share childcare more equally. Shared parental leave and pay enable working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay in their child’s first year. The actions that show promise here are when organizations offer enhanced, shared parental pay at the same level as enhanced maternity pay or when they encourage the take-up of shared parental leave.

For example, when you inform future fathers that it’s their legal right to request shared parental leave. When you provide future parents with guidance and personal support, to understand the scheme, and when you share and promote examples of senior leaders who’ve taken shared parental leave in your organization. That one was all about encouraging the uptake of shared parental leave. Following on from that, it’s about recruiting returners. Returns are people who’ve either taken an extended career break for caring or for other reasons and to are either not currently employed, or maybe they’re in roles, which they’re overqualified.

When you recruit returners, what things that you can do are, for example, target places where returners are likely to be looking, ensure that your recruitment processes return a friendly, and then offer support before and during the assessment. Remember, these people who’ve taken an extended career break may have lost a bit of confidence but they certainly haven’t lost the skills and the knowledge.

The next one then is to think about offering mentoring and sponsorship. They’re quite similar. Mentors provide guidance and advice to their mentees, while sponsors support the advancement and visibility of the person that they’re sponsoring.

There is some evidence to suggest that mentoring programs work very well for some women but not for others. At the moment, it’s not clear based on the existing evidence where the sponsorships are more effective than mentoring, or whether it’s the other way around, or how best to run mentoring and sponsorship programs so that they’re effective and they make a difference. There’s not enough evidence right now to make a recommendation one way or the other.

The other thing that you could do and offer some promise is to offer networking programs.

There was some evidence that suggests that formal networking programs where members meet and share information and careers advice can be helpful for some women but not every woman. There’s more work needed here to understand the effects of networking programs or other diversity programs, and whether they need to have particular features in order to be successful in helping you to close your gender pay gap.

Finally, set internal targets on the basis that you can only manage what you measure. You need to set internal targets, so equality goals and these goals need to be clear and realistic.

You need to be able to track your progress. You could have a generic, overarching goal such as improve gender quality at my organization or reduce my organization’s gender pay gap but those aren’t specific. Therefore, they’re more likely to be unsuccessful. One way of increasing the likelihood that you reach your goals and that you will do something to improve gender equality and close that gender pay gap is to set very specific time-bound targets. What change will you achieve? By when will you achieve it?

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: One way of increasing the likelihood of reaching your goals and doing something to improve gender equality and close that gender pay gap is to set very specific time-bound targets.

Initiatives With Mixed Results

In this final section then, I’m going to share those actions or initiatives that have some mixed results. The jury is still out because sometimes the result is positive but sometimes it has a negative impact. As yet, there’s not enough evidence to say for sure, whether that’s down to the way it’s been implemented or whether there’s something else at work here.

The first thing that we’re going to look at are unconscious bias training or diversity training. Unconscious bias training is often where a new organization starts. It’s easy, practical and tangible but it can sometimes be seen as a bit of a tick-box exercise. “We’ve done unconscious bias training. We’ve done our bit.”

The thing with unconscious bias is it can influence a person’s judgment without them even being aware of it. Unconscious bias training in the workplace aims to make people aware of those potentially harmful unconscious biases and to reduce the impact of those biases. While some types of unconscious bias training may have some limited positive effects, there is no evidence that this training changes behavior or improves workplace equality. Certainly, there’s no evidence that it does this on an ongoing or a permanent basis. It’s like everything. We learned skills, but then we need to practice those skills so we’d learn about unconscious bias, but then we need to practice listening and becoming aware of our unconscious bias.

Again, when we look at diversity training, that can help raise awareness but it’s unlikely to change behavior. It’s only through changing behavior that you’re going to start to close your gender pay gap. There’s been some research in the US that has found that mandatory diversity training either doesn’t change the number of women in management positions or reduces it. In other words, it’s backfiring.

This might be for a whole number of reasons. Is it that people resent being made to do something and so don’t take the training seriously? The training might also bring to mind some unhelpful stereotypes, which people then act upon but it might be that the training makes people think that the organization has now solved its diversity problems. “We’ve ticked the box, now we’re good.”

Another aspect of training that organizations will often embark on is leadership development training. Leadership development programs aim to teach qualities, including management skills, self-confidence. Certainly, in the leadership development training that I do, we look at networking and how to articulate your ambitions. There are some very small-scale studies of the effects of leadership training programs, women, particularly in medicine and academia.

However, there’s no high-quality evidence that such programs definitely help women progress. Sometimes people feel that these programs imply that the women themselves are the problem. It’s not about fixing the women. It’s about fixing the culture and the work landscape. While leadership development training can be a fantastic initiative to introduce, it doesn’t necessarily, based on the evidence, translate itself into hard results in terms of closing your gender pay gap.

Performance self-assessments. In terms of performance in the workplace, there is some evidence that women underestimate their abilities or that they’re more conservative in their assessment of their abilities than men are.

Unconscious bias can influence a person’s judgment without them even being aware of it.

The size of this gender difference can vary depending on the type of performance that people are asked to self-assess. There’s not enough evidence to know how differences in self-assessment affect women’s progression at work. However, if this is something that you’re interested in, I do encourage you to read episode five, in which I interview Shirin Nikaein about how performance feedback affects women’s career progression. Again, in episode six, when I explore how performance self-assessment has an impact.

The final initiative that I’m going to talk about, diverse selection panels. Again, not enough evidence yet to say definitively, whether this will have a positive impact but it does seem that having a selection panel with a mix of men and women seems to help women’s prospects sometimes but, and here’s the kicker, sometimes a mix selection panel or a diverse selection panel hums women’s prospector other times. Some studies show that the more women there are on a panel, the more likely women are to be selected for a role, while unfortunately, some studies find the complete opposite. The effect can also depend on the role being recruited for or the role of the women who are on that panel, who are on that selection committee.

There’s not enough research at the moment to understand the conditions under which a diverse selection panel is or isn’t effective for improving gender equality and, in the long run, closing the gender pay gap. That’s it for this episode, a broad overview of the many different actions and initiatives that you could choose to prioritize in your companies that you start to close the gender pay gap. This overview is based on the Government Equalities Office paper, Reducing the Gender Pay Gap and Improving Gender Quality in Organisations, Evidence-based actions for employers.

I encourage you to go back to that government website for the links to specific research and evidence on these different initiatives.

I hope you found this episode useful and that it sparks some ideas for discussion in your organization.

Please, do reach out and book a call with me if you’d like to explore any of these initiatives and actions with an objective leadership consultant. I offer exploratory calls that you can ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so that you can close the gender pay gap.

Simply email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. One final shout-out, don’t forget, if you want a place at my executive round table on the 5th of October 2021, please do get in touch. I’d hate for you to miss out on this opportunity to discuss the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap with your peers from other technology companies. Thank you so much for reading. To find out more about me and my work, pop over to SherryBevan.co.uk.

Important Links:

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: Does It Affect The Gender Pay Gap?

We often hear that women have higher emotional intelligence. How does this affect their ability to take on leadership roles? Sherry Bevan delves into five elements that make up emotional intelligence and the various studies of how men and women score in this area. She explains how this affects women’s professional advantage and expertise, their effort to climb the career ladder, and their levels of success in their chosen fields.

Listen to the podcast here:

Emotional Intelligence: Does It Affect The Gender Pay Gap?

In this episode, I’m going to be exploring the role of emotional intelligence in the gender pay gap. I work as a leadership consultant partner with technology companies to help them develop and retain their female talent so they close the gender pay gap. Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love you to come back next episode and to make that easier, you just need to subscribe to the show.

As we’re all starting to make our way back into the office after the summer, I’m hearing companies every day making big announcements about their future work model and announcing how much remote or working from home will be allowed going forward. It’s very much introducing this concept of the hybrid work model. Some companies seem to be very flexibly flexible, whereas others are definitely not. That’s exactly what I predicted back in June 2021, when I started to organize my executive round table on the impact of big high working on the gender pay gap in the technology sector.

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence: Employees with high levels of emotional intelligence can build strong working relationships and manage difficult situations more effectively.

With more of us now working from home and continuing to work from home in the future, it’s going to be even more challenging to maintain visibility at work. Indeed, I was working with a one-to-one client before this episode, talking about how she can start to maintain and build on the visibility because in her organization, they’re going to carry on working from home for the foreseeable future. Maybe challenging to maintain visibility isn’t quite the right word, but as individuals, we need to be more proactive at how we manage our presence in the office so that we do stay visible and that we do stay front of mind when it comes to interesting projects and promotions.

That is exactly why I’m going to bring together a small group of HR leaders from other technology companies. So far, I’ve had confirmations from organizations such as Sky, Microsoft and Sage. I’m bringing these people together to share their insights, experiences and learnings on how the hybrid work model will affect the gender pay gap. If you’d like to get involved in the executive round table on Tuesday, the 5th of October 2021, please do reach out to me and let’s get you booked on because I’ve only got a couple of spaces left.

The higher up the career ladder you are, the more emotional intelligence makes a difference in how you succeed at work.

Let’s get into the show. In this episode, I would like to explore the role emotional intelligence plays in the gender pay gap. It’s widely believed that developing high emotional intelligence, sometimes you might see this referred to as EI or EQ, that it’s incredibly important to have a long and successful career. What we know is that those employees with high levels of emotional intelligence, they’re able to build strong working relationships and manage difficult situations more effectively.

It’s also said that developing your emotional intelligence will improve your ability to cope with pressure, your ability to build trust, to negotiate, to influence without authority, to navigate those workplace politics, and we all have those. To take risks, but to take small risks while avoiding reckless ones and to handle the myriad of curveballs that get thrown at us and to handle those curve balls with resilience. When we talk about emotional intelligence, what exactly do we mean?

I go back to the psychologist, Daniel Goleman. He identified five elements that make up emotional intelligence and these are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Let’s take a bit more of a look at each of those five elements. The first three, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation, are often described as personal competencies because they determine how we manage ourselves. Whereas the last two, empathy and social skills, are often referred to as social competencies. In other words, they determine how we handle relationships and the social structure around us.

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Let’s start with self-awareness then. That means being honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses, and being aware of your own feelings. Having that accurate self-assessment of those feelings, your strengths and having self-confidence. When we look at self-regulation, that means you’re not ruled by your feelings. You’re still able to make considered decisions despite your emotions, despite how you might be feeling at the time, but you’re still able to make decisions effectively.

Self-regulation includes things such as self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness and adaptability. When we look at the third personal competency, that’s motivation. Motivation refers to being up for a challenge, happy to work for that long-term success, so you’re able to set those long-term goals and then work towards them by demonstrating commitment, taking initiative and being optimistic. Moving on to the two social competencies then, let’s start with empathy.

Empathy is being able to understand situations from another person’s perspective and then being aware of that individual’s feelings, needs, and concerns, but at the same time, empathy is also about leveraging diversity and political awareness. First and foremost, it’s about being able to see things from somebody else’s point of view, even if you don’t necessarily agree with the feelings that they have or the needs and concerns they have. It’s being able to see it from that person’s point of view. Finally, social skills.

When we talk about somebody who’s got high social skills, it’s somebody who’s easy to talk to, somebody who works well as part of a team. They’re able to diffuse disputes, influence and they communicate well. They’re very comfortable with collaboration. They can manage conflict, and they have good leadership skills generally as well. People who understand and work well with their own emotions, but also other’s emotions and feelings, are the people we describe as having high emotional intelligence. Because of those skills, they tend to be successful at work because they get the best out of every situation.

Women are more effectively using the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management.

They’re good people to have around. Daniel Goleman is the author of Social Intelligence and also the best-seller, Emotional Intelligence. I highly recommend those two books if you want to find out more about emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman believes that the more senior a person is, the more emotional intelligence matters. In other words, the higher up the career ladder you are, then the more that this emotional intelligence and those skills make a difference in how you succeed at work.

He also believes that organizations that learn to operate in emotionally intelligent ways are the companies that will remain dynamic and competitive even in a challenging market. It’s high emotional intelligence rather than technical or cognitive skills. That is what makes the best leaders stand out from the mediocre leaders. From what we know of the differences between how men and women tend to behave and communicate, I started out exploring this episode and doing some research because I wondered if that meant that women who often are seen as better at having a more collaborative style of leadership, of having empathy and great communication skills, do women have more emotional intelligence?

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

If the answer is yes, why aren’t more women higher up the leadership ladder? That was my starting point. I want you to understand, generally, recognize that women tend to have more emotional intelligence. If that’s the case and emotional intelligence is an indicator of the best leaders, why aren’t there more women higher up the career ladder? It seems the answer is yes and no. Often, people equate emotional intelligence with empathy.

As we’ve seen, empathy is being able to see and understand another person’s feelings, needs, and concerns. Being able to put yourself in that person’s shoes, but empathy is not the only thing that matters when it comes to emotional intelligence. We also know that women often have more complex social relationships. Women tend to be more relationship-focused than men, which plays into the social skills of emotional intelligence.

What’s interesting is there was some research conducted back in 2016 specifically on emotional intelligence by the Korn Ferry Hay Group. They use data from 55,000 professionals across 90 countries using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory, sometimes written down as ESCI. It’s developed and co-owned by Richard Boyatzis, Daniel Goleman, and Korn Ferry themselves.

In this research, what was noticed is that women scored higher on all of the competencies except emotional self-control, where there was no gender difference found between men and women. In all of the other competencies that are important for success at work and all of the other emotional intelligence competencies I’m specifically talking about, women scored higher. This means that women are more effectively using the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management.

One interesting comment that I noticed from the research is, “Leaders with strong emotional intelligence create conditions that inspire team members to stay and contribute to the organization long-term. Conversely, leaders with low emotional intelligence have greater potential to drive team members away from the organization.” We’ve all seen that. People leave leaders, not jobs. If you’ve got a leader with strong emotional intelligence who inspires loyalty, you’re more likely to stay. Whereas if it’s somebody who doesn’t have those social skills, who doesn’t have that empathy, you’re more likely to leave more quickly.

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence: Empathy is seeing and understanding another person’s feelings, needs, and concerns.

A study by the global management consultancy Hay Group, analyzed leadership styles around the world and their impact on organizational performance. Ruth Malloy, who was the firm’s head of leadership and talent at the time, examined the results. This showed that leadership style has a big impact on commercial success. What she found is that when you only look at the best leaders in the top 10% of business performance, there are no gender differences in emotional intelligence.

The men are as good as the women, and the women are as good as the man across the board. That’s when you’re looking at the best leaders in the top 10% of business performance, with no gender differences. This research also showed that high levels of emotional intelligence are even more critical in matrix work environments, where individuals are required to lead by influence rather than lead through direct authority. That’s something worth noting in our ever-global world where we often have teams based in 2 or 3 different countries or where we’re managing a matrix team. It’s those levels of emotional intelligence are even more critical in those types of environments.

In conclusion, does emotional intelligence have a role to play in changing the gender pay gap? From what I’ve read, it seems that not, although women tend to score higher in emotional intelligence. When you look at the top leaders and the top companies, they don’t appear to be any differences in emotional intelligence. There was that research that showed that the men are as good as the women and the women are as good as the men across the board when it comes to the top leaders.

Women are more relationship-focused than men, which plays into the social skills of emotional intelligence.

There’s no doubt that developing and building your emotional intelligence, is a sensible strategy. It’s a valuable strategy in order for you as an individual to make progress in your career and as HR leaders for you to provide the tools and the training and the workshops and the awareness to allow your talent to make progress in their careers. From the research and the studies that I’ve looked at to research for this episode, emotional intelligence on its own is not the deciding factor in determining your female talent pipeline and it’s not the deciding factor in whether you’re any nearer to closing the gender pay gap.

GCP 7 | Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence: High levels of emotional intelligence are more critical in matrix work environments. Here, individuals are required to lead by influence rather than lead through direct authority.

I wonder, women tend to have high emotional intelligence, and yet that gender pay gap still exists. What if women didn’t have higher emotional intelligence? Does that mean that the gender pay gap would be even wider? That’s a question I can’t answer, but I’ve enjoyed exploring the role of emotional intelligence in the gender pay gap in this episode. I hope this has stimulated your thoughts, too and I’d love to hear your ideas.

If you’d like to explore any of the ideas discussed, please do reach out and book a call with me. I offer exploratory calls and that you can ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talent so that you start to close that gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call.

If you do want to book one of those last two spaces on the executive round table on Tuesday, the 5th of October 2021, reach out quickly because I’d hate for you to miss out on your opportunity to discuss the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap with your peers from other technology companies. Thank you so much for reading. I’ve enjoyed exploring and researching, and talking about the role of emotional intelligence in changing the gender pay gap. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and gained some valuable insights, and don’t forget if you want to find out more about me and my work, visit SherryBevan.co.uk. Thanks for reading.

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CGP 6 | Self Promotion Gender Gap

The Gender Gap In Self-Promotion: How To Encourage More Women To Put Themselves Forward

Certain companies have half their workforce female, but there are very few women in leadership positions. Why does this keep happening, even today? Sherry Bevan explores the gender gap in self-promotion. A self-promotion is an essential tool for career advancement. Women have to realize that they are valuable and worth it. In this episode, Sherry explains why women don’t put themselves forward for promotion and shares ideas and how you can address this issue in your organization. It’s not just about fixing women; it’s also about changing the system and the landscape. How do you do that? If you want to learn what you can do to encourage women to self-promote, then this episode is for you.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Gender Gap In Self-Promotion: How To Encourage More Women To Put Themselves Forward

Thank you so much for joining me. I would love you to come back next episode and to make that easier, you just needed to subscribe to the show. I remember when I was at school, I was jealous of the kids that had birthdays during term time. At the same time, I was also secretly glad for having a birthday in August meant I never had to endure the birthday bumps because it was always the school holidays. I don’t know if the birthday bump is a thing anymore.

CGP 6 | Self Promotion Gender Gap
The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion by Christine L. Exley and Judd B. Kessler

I’m also busy finalizing invitations for my executive round table on the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap in the technology sector. I still do have a couple of spaces available for the executive round table on the 5th of October. Please do reach out if you’d like to join us, to share insights, experiences and learnings with participants from other tech companies, including Sky, Microsoft and Sage. In this episode, I want to explore why women don’t put themselves forward for promotion at work. What can you do to change this habit?

Self-promotion is an essential tool for career advancement whether that’s in job, performance reviews or just simply networking. Women often feel they need to be more than capable of doing the job at that next level before they apply. To the issue of self-promotion, it’s less likely to be a problem early on in careers, where there are more structured programs for career progression. It means it’s more likely to be of a challenge further down the talent pipeline, particularly when you’re recruiting for more senior roles or promoting into those more senior roles. For some women, those more senior roles come at a time when they’ve taken time out for maternity leave and often that can have a knock on a woman’s confidence.

The gender gap in self-promotion reflects an underlying gender gap in how individuals subjectively evaluate their performance. 

According to a Hewlett Packard study, men will apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. The main reason that women give to not apply for a job is they’re concerned that they’d be wasting their time if they’re not fully qualified for the role. Men tend to have no such qualms about applying for jobs even if they don’t quite fit the criteria.

Whenever I talk about women, men, I’m talking about general tendencies. There’s a great paper I’d encourage you to read. It’s called The Gender Pay Gap in Self-Promotion. It was first published back in October 2019 and has been revised in May 2021. It’s by Christine Exley and Judd Kessler. It shows that women subjectively describe their ability and performance to potential employers less favorably than equally performing men, even when all incentives to promote are removed. However, the gender gap remains. The gender gap in self-promotion is reflective of an underlying gender gap in how individuals subjectively evaluate their own performance.

In this working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, women were consistently rating their performance on a particular task lower than the men did. Even though when you look at the actual test results, both groups had the same average score. When it came to self-assessment, men, on average, gave themselves 61 out of 100. Women gave themselves 46 out of 100. Even when told that an employer would use their self-evaluation, decide whether to hide them and what to pay them, women still self-promoted less than men.

CGP 6 | Self Promotion Gender Gap
Self Promotion Gender Gap: Women tend to fall into the habit of expecting others to notice the results and offer the rewards.

At various points in our professional lives, individuals are explicitly asked about their performance and their ability especially when it comes to applying for a job, a self-nomination for promotion. Even to simply being more visible and expressing articulating skills, experience and ambition. This paper then documents, firstly, a gender gap in self-promotion in that women subjectively describe their performance less favorably to potential employers than equally performing men but it also documents a gender gap and informed self-promotion. The gender gap persists even when participants know that absolute and their relative performance and they are asked about that performance.

This relates to an underlying gender gap in how men and women subjectively evaluate their performance but it’s not simply enough to encourage or educate women on how to be more confident or how to be more assertive. It’s not just about fixing women but it’s about changing the system and changing the landscape. What’s the answer? Do we need to use more objective performance metrics rather than subjective self-assessments of performance?

Even then, we’ve seen from a previous episode that there is bias in that performance and the feedback. We’ve already seen that men are more likely to put themselves forward for a role, even if they’re not ready in terms of ticking all the boxes or ticking all the criteria, whereas women often feel they need to be more than capable of doing a job before they apply. Many business leaders support go for the job and worry about if you can do it later.

Education is a key way of encouraging women to think about visibility rather than self-promotion.

This doesn’t necessarily come naturally to all women and it doesn’t come naturally to some men as well. Women tend to overvalue expertise and want to be experts at everything to be able to move up the career ladder. When in fact, the higher up the ladder you are, the more you’re focused on strategy and the importance of delegation. Women tend to have a reluctance to claim achievements about being assertive to talk about their achievements and results. The double whammy of this is that women tend to get penalized for seeming assertive because it’s not our cultural expectation. It’s not what society wants and expects from women.

Women tend to fall into the habit of expecting others to notice the results and offer the rewards. This comes back to our school days where we learn that we work hard and therefore we get good results in terms of our exam results, our degree. When we get into the workplace, working hard and producing good results is not enough. We also see women in the loyalty trap where they get more focused on their team, their manager or their company rather than prioritizing their own career. They’re not always on the lookout for opportunities and they tend to not think of the job as a stepping stone.

They feel uncomfortable admitting self-interest and another interesting thing is that women tend to be risk-averse, which means they’re less open to failure and therefore perhaps less likely to take a chance to take the risk of going for that promotion or go for that new job. Women tend to be much more detail-focused. They tend to want to be perfectionists and to focus on the detail and that means they’re unable to delegate as effectively, which often then keeps them overwhelmingly busy.

Attending meetings, we tend to see women minimizing themselves, making themselves smaller, taking up less space in meetings and that has a subtle subconscious effect, not just on the woman but on the people around her and of expectations of her. The idea of self-promotion itself feels very alien to many women. It goes against that be nice behavior that has been instilled in women and girls from very early years because self-promotion conjures up this idea of ego. It conjures up this idea of the falseness of awkward actions. Often for women, it feels too masculine, particularly if they’re actively trying to be their authentic feminine self and not a replica of the masculine career go-getter.

We’ve looked then why women tend to not put themselves forward for promotion, why they don’t self-promote. To knowing all of this, what can you do to encourage more women? What can organizations do to encourage more women to put themselves forward for promotion? Education is a key way of encouraging women to think about visibility rather than self-promotion. Education in the form of lunch and learns, workshops or leadership programs, either in-house or sending women to an external program. Something that a large technology company started to do because they were noticing that fewer women were putting themselves forward for promotion in that annual promotion mound each year.

In the run-up to the annual promotion round, they started to send out emails, informing people where the information in the data on how many employees had self-nominated the year before and of those, how many had been successful and showing the percentages for those identifying as men or as women. They would then send out a couple more emails before the promotion round closed of how many had submitted or self-nominated in that particular promotion round.

What they found was this encouraged more women to put themselves forward because they could see the imbalance and they could see the injustice. They did this for 3 or 4 years and then one year, they didn’t send out those pre-promotion emails and what they noticed was that the numbers dropped right back again. Something else you can do is to look at the language of your promotion criteria in the same way as you would approach looking at neutral language on job descriptions for job applications.

CGP 6 | Self Promotion Gender Gap
Self Promotion Gender Gap: When women are ready or felt they were ready, this often coincided with when they started to think about having families.

If you’re not sure how to do this, the first step is to focus on any gender-coded words, for example, workmanship, chairman, grandfather clause. Look at the descriptive language because there are some words that are more appealing to women, what we call feminine-coded language. For example, feminine-coded language that appeals to women are things like collaboration, communication or connection. A few examples of masculine-coded language would be aggressive, competitive, decisive.

What we’ve seen from the research is whereas feminine-coded language doesn’t particularly put men off, masculine-coded language definitely does put women off. Something that you can do is to look at your criteria and see whether you can change the language to encourage more women to put themselves forward. More than that, when you review the criteria, the other thing to look at is are the requirements that you have written down necessary?

This goes back to the fact we were discussing earlier that women will typically only put themselves forward for a job, a promotion or a new role when they meet 100% of the criteria. Review your criteria. Review the requirements for your promotions. Are they strictly necessary? One large financial institution noticed a few years ago is that its male assistant bank managers tended to put themselves forward for promotion to branch manager a year before they were ready and women tend to do it a year after they were ready so a year too late.

What they started to do then was to proactively promote their women a year ahead of the time. The other thing that they started to realize is that when women were ready or when women felt they were ready, this often coincided with the time that women were starting to think about or starting families. This meant that they didn’t want to put themselves forward for a bigger role for a promotion because they were unsure about their career, their life and how they would feel about having that bigger role with a family to take into consideration.

What this bank started to do was to promote women before they had children. Perhaps potentially a year earlier than they were ready for it but it meant that once you’ve got that promotion and then you start to think about having a family, you just adapt. You take on the new role, you take on the new responsibilities and then when you come back from maternity leave, it fits into your life a lot more easily.

I would encourage you to look at, gather and analyze the relevant data. Analyze their promotions and look at which departments or teams provide more of your senior staff. Let’s put a supermarket, for example. In a supermarket, you make your way up the career ladder. You become responsible for a particular section so you become a section manager for frozen goods store, household cleaning or the bakery department.

One national supermarket realized that most of their store managers came from 1 or 2 sections and these were the sections that not many women worked in. By gathering and analyzing their data and seeing where their promotion, where their senior staff came from, that allowed the supermarket to take action for the future.

In this episode, we’ve looked at why women don’t put themselves forward for promotion and we’ve looked at a few ideas and how you can address this issue in your own organization. If you’d like to explore some of the ideas discussed then please do reach out and book a call with me. I offer exploratory calls. You can ask any questions you’ve got about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talent so you close the gender pay gap.

Thank you so much for reading. I’ve enjoyed writing about why women don’t put themselves forward for promotion and what you can do in your organization to change that habit so that you start to close the gender pay gap. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this episode and gain some valuable insights. To find out more about me and my work, visit SherryBevan.co.uk. Thanks for reading.

Important Links:

How Performance Feedback At Work Influences Your Gender Pay Gap With Shirin Nikaein

Performance feedback is often used as a tool to measure competency and is, therefore, a gauge for employee success, with good feedback often rewarded with better pay or promotions. Yet, in the case of women in the workplace, it can also be the cause of a gender pay gap.

Join Sherry Bevan as she explores this issue with the CEO and Co-founder of Upful.ai, Shirin Nikaein. Shirin and Sherry discuss performance feedback and how it can negatively impact the gender pay gap. They also talk about ways to resolve this issue. A thought-provoking discussion that leaders need to tune in to.

Listen to the podcast here

How Performance Feedback At Work Influences Your Gender Pay Gap With Shirin Nikaein

I’m absolutely delighted to be talking to Shirin Nikaein. She is the Cofounder and CEO of Upful, an HR Software as a Service startup. She’s got many years of experience leading engineering analytics and product management in many tech companies, from startups to large enterprises. She’s the former lead engineer for the Beats by Dre headphones and her previous artificial intelligence products have been used by clients including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, UPS and Tinder. She’s graduated with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. We’re going to be sharing some ideas and experiences on how performance feedback affects the gender pay gap. I hope you get something valuable from this to help you. Welcome, Shirin. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thanks for having me, Sherry.

This is such a fascinating topic and I know when we first got talking about this, we could have just talked for hours. I thought I’d start by asking you to explain to me, how do women sell themselves short in their own self-assessment? Lots of us have heard about imposter syndrome. What do we do to ourselves? How do we sabotage ourselves?

In how we do self-ratings, even in the language and how we explain what we’ve done, our accomplishments, not just in self-assessments when it comes time for a formal review. It also shows up in how we write our resumes, where we’re typically giving more credit to our team. We explain our accomplishments as like we contributed to a team effort or we didn’t necessarily need it. We were more afraid of taking credit for something that we led because there is somewhat of a backlash if we do try to take credit for it. I understand why some women are afraid to do that because we might get labeled as having a big ego or being a little bit arrogant. There’s a double standard that we’re dealing with.

On top of that, we also have the category of women who are suffering from imposter syndrome. This group of people doesn’t even see themselves as having had as great of an impact as they did. They don’t realize that they have led or contributed in a significant way that led to some kind of big accomplishment. It’ll show up in the language and language is probably softened. Even the numerical ratings are also lower than that of white men. That’s how we sell ourselves short.

We’ve both mentioned the imposter syndrome there but just in case there’s anybody reading, who hasn’t heard of that before, it’s a new term for them. Would you mind just giving us a brief explanation of what we’re talking about?

Imposter syndrome is an internal belief that we’re not good enough. We don’t fit in. If you have a different definition that you would like to add to, please do. It’s like we don’t see ourselves as the typical CEO or leader. We don’t see enough of that in either media or in the world and we’re not exposed to it. In our heads, we don’t think we fit in. When we get to that level, we still don’t think we fit in. The problem is, oftentimes, we are just as capable, intelligent and able to perform but in our heads, we don’t believe it yet. We think that we’re being fake. We feel like we are faking our way and most of us are not. We’re just as capable as the next person.

Imposter syndrome is the internal belief that we’re not good enough or we don’t fit in.

Sometimes what I hear women say is that it’s a lucky fluke that they got to where they are or they worry, they’re going to “get found out.”

They attribute it to luck rather than their own accomplishments and experience.

We’ve talked about how women tend to sell themselves short in their own self-assessment. How does this influence the feedback that they then get from their own managers on their performance?

In a lot of companies, what they do is because it’s difficult for managers to remember everything that every one of their direct reports has done throughout the year. This is for companies that maybe only do it once or twice a year. That’s part of why a lot of companies have moved to do it more frequently because you don’t forget all of these things that happen throughout the year. When a manager has to remember, maybe they have ten direct reports and they have to remember all of the big things that everybody did? They can’t remember that on their own.

What they do is depend on reading everybody’s self-assessments and evaluations. The manager will look at these self-assessments. They’re going to be impacted by the language in it, by the ratings in it and the content of it. Whatever the woman wrote about her accomplishments and growth throughout that year, this manager is going to make an assessment based on reading that. If that self-assessment is already lower in terms of the ratings and the way that the accomplishments are described, the credit that the woman took for her contributions, the manager is negatively going to be anchored by those lower self-assessments.

There has been a study done, I believe. I don’t know if it’s been released to the public but there was a public presentation on it back in 2019. It’s a study done by the Harvard Kennedy School for Women and Public Policy Program and the University of Exeter. The study was done by Iris Bohnet, Oliver Hauser, and Ariella Kristal. The paper is called Supply- and Demand- Side Effects in Performance Appraisals: The Role of Gender and Race. They looked at how people like white men versus women did their self-assessments and what kind of numerical scores they got.

They looked at how those self-assessments anchored manager assessments. You can see that there’s a clear anchoring effect. However, the manager assessments do bring it closer together. The difference between the self-assessments was big and the manager assessment did minimize that gap a little bit but it was still very clearly anchored by it. That’s where we’re getting these results from this study.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: Subtle differences in language in an evaluation have a huge impact on whether somebody gets promoted or gets a salary increase.

Also, that influences the managers and how they view that individual woman or man. It’s also going to affect how they view whether or not that person is ready to get promoted as well, which I think you’re creating this spiral effect almost. If you sell yourself short in your self-assessment, therefore, your manager sells you short as well but he or she is influenced by what you’ve written. It keeps ongoing.

I have an example of two sentences that we could dissect and talk about how great the difference is in these two sentences. This first one is about a man, let’s say the name is Tom. The sentence says, “Tom seems hesitant in making decisions. Yet, he is able to work out multiple alternative solutions and determine the most suitable one.” That’s one. The second sentence is for a female, “Amanda seems paralyzed and confused when facing tight deadlines to make decisions.”

Imagine that these are the exact two same scenarios. These are how differently it was described based on gender. The problem with this is when you say that “Amanda is paralyzed and confused,” first of all, how do you know what’s going on in her head? How do you know if she was confused? Using the word confused makes it sound like she’s incompetent. The fact that the way that they said it, “She’s paralyzed and confused when making decisions,” that’s it. They left it like that. It makes you question whether she has potential for growth but then when you look at the sentence for the man, Tom was just hesitant. How do you know what was going on in his head? There’s no outward observation that you can make to see what’s going on in someone’s head.

They called it hesitant, which doesn’t indicate any type of incompetency as confusion does. They did say, “He came up with multiple solutions and then picked one.” They did. In the end, he came to a decision. That’s good. It seems like he has more potential and doesn’t need additional training for this but for the woman. It sounds like, “Something’s wrong with her. She needs more training and she can’t even think.” These very subtle differences in language in the evaluation have a huge impact on whether somebody gets promoted or when they will get the next salary increase. It also affects what projects they get assigned to. The woman might not get assigned to the most strategic or visible project but the man will because the way that the languages presented shows that they still have potential and they’re still competent.

That’s great knowing those two examples and you can see how the language has a big impact on not just what that manager writes but future managers and what they might interpret or perceive from that feedback.

Just like that, you’re saying that Directors and VPs might read these manager assessments and make decisions without ever knowing that employee. That’s why the language is incredibly important because there is so much meaning behind it.

One of the things we talked about previously was likability and how that impacts performance reviews for women versus men?

When women break stereotypical norms, they are punished for it.

There were two studies that I wanted to mention with respect to ability. One of them is the Heidi and Howard Study. Heidi Roizen is an actual VC and basically, there was this experiment conducted at the Columbia Business School with the business school students. The students get to see two case studies. They’re the exact same case study, but one of them has the name Heidi and one of them has the name Howard.

Otherwise, everything else is exactly the same, just the name.

Just the name and that indicates gender. This case study was about a successful venture capitalist. They asked these study participants to rate the competency and the likeability of this VC. Heidi and Howard were rated highly on competency but Heidi was rated very low on likability. The study participants said that, “Heidi is power-hungry. She is self-promoting and not humble. They would not hire her and would not want to work with her.” It’s the complete opposite of Howard. This is the exact same person on paper. The only difference is gender. You can see that there’s a clear likeability penalty when a woman is exhibiting stereotypically masculine traits in a stereotypically masculine role. That is when they break the stereotypical norms. They are punished for it.

It’s almost as though it’s okay for a man to be ambitious, self-starter and perhaps aggressive in his approach maybe but as soon as a woman displays those same characteristics, it’s wrong. It’s a bad thing for a woman to be displaying those same characteristics because we perceive and expect women to behave in a softer, more feminine way.

It’s about the expectation and whether we break it or not. There are other studies that talk about how women who are in stereotypically more feminine roles, like marketing, don’t necessarily break the stereotypes. There isn’t as much of this double or punishment because they’re in a stereotypically female role.

It’s interesting because what we talked about in the last episode was how there’s a hierarchy in technology and that often women will end up in roles that are seen as less technical, less demanding and therefore get valued or paid less. For example, product management or training are seen as better suited to a typical female skillset and that perhaps a network architect or lead engineer is better suited to a male, the stereotypical tendency. That’s interesting that you’ve raised that as well.

There’s the double standard for if you’re a female and you’re in a more masculine role or position but even if you don’t behave in a masculine way and you’re in that role, you’re just not going to get anywhere. You’re not going to grow as fast as the others. Either you might have an easier time in that role because you’re not being punished but you’re also not going to grow. There’s this double bind.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: Directors and VPs read manager assessments and make decisions without ever knowing an employee. That’s why the language is so incredibly important because there is so much meaning behind it.

We’ve already talked a bit about this but it’s going to affect how quickly different groups of employees get promoted, get salary increases or the size of the bonus, even that they get as well.

How it affects how people grow? It affects your earnings, salary increases, what we’ve talked about before, whether you get promoted or not and how quickly you got promoted. There’s a term for this. It’s called promotion velocity. Promotion velocity is the measurement of how quickly people grow in an organization, how quickly they get promoted. What does that time for the promotion? Companies need to be tracking this, measuring this, slice and dice it by different demographics in their company or organization.

They need to look at based on gender, race, ethnicity, even based on other factors that we haven’t uncovered yet. Even do it by department, it would be interesting to look at that. Just to see certain groups of people getting promoted at a quicker rate or a slower rate than others. Is there some reason for that? It might uncover some issues with bias and discrimination. Companies need to start tracking it. It’s still somewhat of a new term. It hasn’t been tracked historically. When companies care about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, this needs to be one of the things that they measure. There are some simulations done. There’s one that was done at Rice University that looked at two identical people that had a 5% difference in performance ratings. What they found was that a tiny 5% difference equated to creating a two-level gap over the course of seven years.

When we talk about the gap, it’s very much talking about promotion velocity. It’s also pointing out the fact that so many companies are focused on, “Let’s hire more women into these managerial or leadership roles. Let’s hire them externally.” The problem isn’t just that we’re not giving them the same opportunities in terms of hiring, recruiting and acquisition. It’s about growth within the company as well because they’re just not being promoted at the same rate. It truly is an issue with how we’re evaluating them, not necessarily whether they’re capable, competent or whether they need more development and training. Those are all things that are important too. Even when two people are totally equal, there is a gap and that needs to be solved.

This simulation at Rice, as I mentioned, was done for two identical people. The difference wasn’t even based on race or gender. If you can imagine that if race or gender was factored in, that gap would be even greater. When we look at diverse representation, when you look at different levels within a company from entry-level up to CEO, the diversity decreases as you move up the company ladder. This has a lot to do with promotion velocity or different differential promotion velocities.

It’s quite incredible how over time, naturally, that gap is going to be exaggerated and to be felt even more as people move up through an organization.

There’s one more study I can mention here because it goes back to likability, breaking the stereotypical norms and that punishment for it. This other study was done by a New York University psychologist. I believe her name is Madeline Heilman. The participants in this study were basically given two identical scenarios and the difference is gender. They were asked to evaluate the performance of either the male or female employee who did or didn’t stay late to help colleagues prepare for an important meeting. In the case that both the man and the woman said, “Yes, I will stay late and help you prepare for this meeting,” the man was rated 14% higher than the woman.

Diversity decreases as you move up the company ladder, and this has a lot to do with different promotion velocities.

That’s a huge amount.

This is not even the 5%. This is 14%. When both of them said yes, the man was rated at 14% higher. Now when both of them said, “No, I can’t stay late to help you prepare for a meeting,” the woman was rated 12% lower than the man. Identical scenarios and the only difference is gender. What they found was that a woman has to say yes all the time and help her colleagues in order to be at the same level as a man who always says no.

Further, they found that the reasoning behind this is because when both of them said, “Yes, I’ll help,” the woman was expected to be helpful. That’s why she didn’t get extra points for it. When the man said yes, they didn’t expect him to be helpful. When he said yes, “He’s generous. This guy’s amazing.” When they both said no, it’s because the expectation was for the woman to always be helpful. When she said no, she was punished for it. She was considered to be selfish. When the man said no, people assumed that he was busy doing something more important. They didn’t make that assumption about the woman but for the man, “He must be busy with something more important. It’s okay.”

That’s a double whammy. It comes back to perhaps society’s expectations of what we perceive, how a woman should behave and that she should be helpful and all of that kind of thing, which is absolutely fascinating. We’ve talked a lot about the different factors and what’s involved. The differences between how men and women may be perceived in terms of feedback. What can HR leaders do to encourage a more positive feedback culture?

This is something that I learned from one of the companies that I interviewed. They can ask or do a survey to ask people how they prefer to hear feedback. They put together a survey and ask people, “When do you want to hear it? How do you want to hear it? Who do you want to hear it from?” This can help managers or colleagues prepare for how to have those conversations or if they do it in writing, how to go about it? Putting together a little survey like that to understand how people want to receive it if they want to ask for it ahead of time if they want it to happen in private or in the moment as it’s happening. All of these preferences would be great to know because then people can be more effective in delivering that feedback.

Also, HR should make sure that there are different options for how to give feedback that people are comfortable doing that. Whether it’s in writing, in person or maybe in some cases, it should be anonymous. In other cases, maybe it shouldn’t be anonymous. Maybe it has to go through a third party that HR could put together in place some tools to facilitate this. Maybe even to facilitate it in real-time, any time throughout the year, not just once or twice a year, because we know that there are a lot of cognitive biases that can impact how feedback is given. Recency bias is a big one. As time passes, we forget all the details and we become less accurate in how we remember things. Our memory does not work like a videotape so we need to be aware of that bias when we’re giving each other feedback. The sooner you can give the feedback, the better. There are tools that will help facilitate that as well.

I know your product Upful will help to reduce bias in performance reviews and employee feedback. Tell me a little bit more about your product.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: HR should make sure that there are different options for giving feedback so that people are comfortable doing it – whether it’s in writing, in person, or, in some cases, anonymous.

Upful is a coaching tool. It’s software that analyzes language in performance reviews or in employee feedback. It could also be applied to job candidate assessment notes. It analyzes the language. It looks for vague, subjective, extreme, speculative and potentially biased words or phrases. In real-time, whoever is writing this, coaches them to be more meaningful, objective and inclusive in their language choice. If somebody was giving even positive feedback, like if you said, “Sherry did a good job with X, Y, and Z,” the coach might then pop up a little message off to the side and say, “That’s great.” Can you let her know what was great about what she did? She might do it more in the future.”

It’s all non-accusatory so that people don’t have a defensive reaction to the coaching and it’s all private. Only the person writing it gets to see these coaching moments. It either reminds them of best practices, asks them to provide an example or it asks them questions to provoke deeper thinking. Another example of the coaching that we do is with this double bind or the double standards that women face. If you were to say that, “Sherry is always aggressive in meetings.” The coach might say, “I might flag something about the word always because that’s an extreme word. How often is it truly always? We might coach around that.”

For the word aggressive, we might say something like, “How is she being aggressive? Can you give an example? Could it also be considered assertive or confident?” Now, we’re planting seeds about alternative interpretations that the writer might then think about and reconsider. Basically, we’re trying to make the quality of the review, better and more accurate representation of someone’s performance and potential but also make it more meaningful so that the person receiving that feedback can actually learn and grow from it.

Lots of HR teams will give feedback to managers on how to conduct performance review meetings or how to write performance feedback. This is supplementing that by giving you that coaching tool on top of it that reinforces and reminds people about the bias that may be slipping into what they’re writing without them even realizing it.

We don’t because it’s not accusatory. We don’t call people out. We never say, “You’re being biased. You said something bad.” It’s always done in this subtle soft way so that nobody reacts very defensively to it. We even try to inject some humor into the way that we do the coaching because that’s our take on it, our little spin on how to make it a little bit more friendly and for people to learn from. We’re using Behavioral Science methodologies that are proven. There are tons of studies that show this type of methodology can help change how people think and behave and we’re utilizing those methodologies in our product.

That’s absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for joining me, Shirin. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about how performance feedback is affecting the gender pay gap. I hope that you enjoyed reading this episode. Thank you so much for joining me. If this episode sparked a thought in your mind, I’d love for you to connect with a chat with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap. Thank you for reading and we’ll be back in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Shirin Nikaein

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance FeedbackShirin Nikaein is the Co-Founder & CEO of Upful.ai, an HR / DEI Tech SaaS startup. Shirin has nearly 15 years of experience leading engineering, analytics, and product management in many tech companies, from startups to large enterprises. She’s the former Lead Engineer for the Beats by Dre headphones, and her previous Artificial Intelligence products have been used by clients including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, UPS and Tinder. She graduated with a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from USC and an MBA from UCLA Anderson.

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

There is an assumption that women can only do certain things and that they aren’t qualified for more technical roles in the tech industry. Now is the time to break that hierarchy and give everyone equal opportunity. Joining this episode is the founder and director of InclusioneeringJo Stansfield, to talk about how the hierarchy affects the gender pay gap. Learn how to break the perceived status of women and how they can learn different skill sets. Learn how to be flexible so that you can move up the ranks and break the pay gap.

Listen to the podcast here:

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

A very warm welcome to Jo Stansfield. We’re going to be talking about how the hierarchy in technology teams affects the gender pay gap. Before we do that, I’ll let you know about Inclusioneering, where Jo works, is a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion solutions, and consultancy for technology and engineering organizations. Before we dive into the content of this episode, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s read, shared or subscribe to the first few episodes of the show. I do appreciate and value every single one of you, so thank you for that.

A very warm welcome to Jo. Before we start exploring this fascinating subject of how the hierarchy in technology teams works, what it is, and how that might affect the gender pay gap, I would love you to tell us a bit more about you and Inclusioneering.

Thanks, Sherry. I’m very happy to be here and talk about it. It’s such an important topic. My name is Jo Stansfield. I’m the Founder and Director of Inclusioneering Ltd. We’re a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and consultancy for taking engineering firms to help them transform their culture and achieve much better results from their teams in terms of their productivity, innovation through building much greater inclusion and equality in the team. I came to this by route of being a woman in tech myself. Most of my experience in my career has been working in tech teams, doing the engineering, and leading engineering teams to be developing enterprise software. I had a bit of an awakening that being a woman in tech was quite a big deal when I had kids.

Suddenly, I realized that my identity isn’t how I feel about me. It’s also about how other people see me, the assumptions they make, and the expectations they have too. Becoming a mom made it clear that people’s expectations of me didn’t match the ambition and the drive that I had to be doing so much more with my career. That set me off on a path, decided to retrain to understand much more about what’s going on and what are the factors that people create. These assumptions, expectations, and all of the underlying social interaction behind them. I decided to take an Organizational Psychology Master’s Degree as you do, and that led me on completing that to be able to make use of the research that I carried out about taking engineering teams to set up Inclusioneering and build on the findings from all of the research that I did there.

Tell me a bit more about your Master’s because it sounds like you had this awakening when you became a mother and realized that other people’s perceptions of you weren’t what you had. Tell me a bit more about what you looked at in your Master’s.

I signed up for the Master’s Degree while I was leading some technical departments and some of the first things that taught me a lot more about leadership. What it is to be a leader and different styles of leadership that we can take. All of this was building on some strong psychological foundations, looking across dimensions of cognition and social psychology, how people relate, the origins of bias and prejudice, and all of this being rooted in stereotypes. This leads to the attitudes that we form, which lead to the decisions we make and the actions that we take. All of this came together to support me in the leadership role that I had at that time, but it became a growing interest to focus on the diversity aspects.

Why gender and ethnicity matters in closing the gender pay gap.

From that point on within the Master’s Degree, I’m focused on pretty much every single piece of work I could do towards understanding the dynamics of diversity within teams in organizations. We also had lots of topics around coaching, which is now quite integral to part of the work that I’m doing. Looking at organizational development, and change are the things that impact how an organization operates. There’s a lot of foundational stuff that now supports the work that I’m doing to be working with organizations for change.

What specifically did you learn that you’re bringing into the workplace when you work with employers?

In terms of the dynamics of diversity, I think this is where a lot of the key things start to show up. The research that I carried out was very focused on what happens within tech and engineering teams. Can we see anything in the day-to-day experience of people in their teams that highlights things that might predict why we don’t see women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds progressing in the same way that white men do through their careers? All of that research was built upon the social psychology foundations I talked about. It’s understanding the impact of stereotype expectations between different people and how that can lead to bias in terms of what we expect of each other. That can also lead to different kinds of status expectations too.

One thing that I’ve found fascinating in the research, and as I’ve been talking to people about it afterward, is how this status expectation starts aligning between what we see in society and the different types of roles we’ve got in our teams. Within a tech team, you’ve got your developers, testers, user experience, and documentation. There’s a bit of a power hierarchy going on there between all of the different roles in the team. Very often, the developers, architects and the most technical roles are the people who have got the most influence in the team in terms of the direction the team takes. What we see happening is that it starts to align with these kinds of social groups as well.

Women will often find themselves gradually being moved into more people roles regardless of how technical they see themselves. They quite often become project managers or user experience, whereas the men often in the developer roles having that higher status technical work. I’m beginning to understand the dynamics of power, status, and how that influences who really gets the prestigious work. It’s quite fundamental in the work that I’m doing to help build greater inclusion within tech teams to be able to recognize people’s strengths regardless of stereotype expectations that we might have of them.

That resonates because when I was head of IT, I had it fairly mixed team in terms of numbers of men versus women, but all my trainers were female. All of my techy people were male and the service desk was a bit of a mix. I always found that the service desk was a team that always seemed to be at the lowest end of the hierarchy regardless of how senior you were in that service desk team. That resonates because I can see lots of the women that I have worked in their tech careers have ended up migrating into a project management role so it’s interesting that that’s what you’ve found in your research. I can see how it aligns with what’s going on in society as a whole.

It’s interesting to see how that alignment happens without anyone consciously thinking about it. There’s that gradual shift of people moving towards roles that line up with their social status as well. One thing that I found interesting after doing the research is that I’ve been talking to people about race as well as about gender. One thing that I’ve learned is that very often, black people find it very difficult to get the most technical roles. They’re not taken as seriously as their white counterparts, so they’ll enter their career through a different route such as testing. There’s the challenge to overcome the hurdle from moving from a tester into one of the more technical developer roles that is still to overcome. Often, that’s a transition that people don’t manage to make.

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: People need to understand the impact of stereotype expectations between different people. That can lead to bias in terms of what people expect of each other.

One thing that’s heartbreaking about it is that organizations are busy saying, “Where’s the diversity? Why can’t we recruit more diversity into these roles?” I’m busy talking at conferences to people saying, “I’ve been trying so hard to get a developer job. I’ve trained myself in my own time and I’ve done all of this extra project work in my own back, but no one is taking me seriously and I can’t get that more technical job.” There’s a bit of a disconnect between what is there and what we’re recognizing in terms of people’s preferences.

Do you think that’s to do with us as individuals and the way that we present ourselves in the workplace or do you think it has to do with the way that the heads of IT, CIO, CTO, or the head of HR, how they view people or is it a bit of both perhaps?

It’s been a bit of both. Expectations are very pervasive. Everybody has expectations based on stereotypes of pretty much everybody else. I’ve found that women stereotype women as much as men stereotype women. It’s a cultural phenomenon rather than a particular gender against the other gender. It’s something that’s built into all of us of what we expect from each other. We internalize that, too, sometimes. I’ve talked to quite a few women who know that I’m quite good at the people tasks. I want to do the technical stuff, but I can see the people things are what people want me to do.” That expectation gets built into the path that we put for ourselves as well. There are both aspects of it giving that nudge towards the more stereotypical expectation for everybody.

Do you think that women, on the whole, tend to have a more collaborative style of leadership, tend to be better at relationship building? Is that why we end up in this hierarchy of roles in technology?

It can be. It’s important that people do build on their strengths to take the next steps to develop themselves. Talking to women in the tech team often do see in themselves the greater ability to those relationships and help the team to collaborate than they see amongst the rest of the team. They feel like, “Someone has to do this job, so it’s important for me to step up and do it.” I think that there is that greater skill, but of course, everybody is different. What’s important is that we can recognize strengths based on what that person’s saying, doing, and what we hear from them rather than judging based on expectations due to their gender.

We’ve talked about how the architect is at the top of the hierarchy and perhaps, IT trainers or service desk at the bottom of the hierarchy. Not that I believe that, but that’s what the technology society feels that. What can the employers do differently to try and balance that out?

There are a few things. Firstly, it’s about giving everybody the opportunity to progress in their careers and breaking this pattern that I keep seeing where the women or the people in the ethnic minority groups saying, “We want to move into this particular area, but we can’t get there.” It’s making sure that there are opportunities for people to develop and move sideways into different roles. It’s important for that mobility between these hidden parts of the hierarchy. It’s also important to be reviewing pay scales and pay structures in terms of the pay gap, what is fair pay within each of the different roles, and making sure that that is equitable by gender so that within the different roles, there’s equal pay for the work that’s been carried out.

Status expectation starts aligning between what you see in the roles you’ve got in the world.

That’s something I noticed looking at an organization where the more technical roles were on a higher pay scale than the less technical roles, but the less technical roles were in some arguably more important and delivered more value to the business. It is about getting that equity across work that’s of the same value.

It’s interesting how work does get valued. There has been research that showed that for some fields, when more women enter those fields, it’s got the impact of de-valuing that particular piece of work because somehow, it’s not seen as such high status anymore. The organization is questioning what the value is coming from work and being sure to value equally things that are delivering that equal pay too.

It’s a tricky one because you want everybody to be doing the work that they’re good at, they enjoy, and get the most joy, but equally, you don’t want it to be that they’re excluded from a particular type of work because of the colour their skin, their gender, age, or anything. We’ve talked about network architects being at the top of the hierarchy. What is the best way for people to get that sideways move into that type of role or to go from testing to developing, for example?

A lot of the work that I’ve been doing is with agile teams who are self-organizing teams. Their team are empowered to make the decisions about how they do the work and break down the work to solve a particular challenge that their customer has got. Something that I advocate for is to be able to listen to people regardless of the formal job title they have. Everyone has got something to contribute into that understanding of the customer’s needs and turning that into what the solution will be. There’s great scope within agile teams for people to develop flexibility in the type of work they’re doing and to develop skills that are maybe adjacent to what they’ve started off with.

The work that I’ve been doing with agile teams and developing a program for is to help them to understand where that hierarchy is in their team and start breaking down some of the silos that get formed as a result of it. They enable people to contribute more broadly. This is great for individuals but for the team too, because you’ve not got all of these single points of failures that quite often form when the same person always gets the same type of task.

Do you find it had something to the team dynamics, somebody who’s primarily done testing starts to understand the developer’s role or the developer starts to understand the architect’s or the user experience role? Do you find it must add surely to the richness and the quality of the products you produce?

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: Women will often find themselves being moved into more people roles, regardless of how technical they see themselves as. People need to build inclusion so that they can recognize each other’s strengths.

I can speak from my own personal experience having had a range of different roles within tech teams over time, some large and some small companies. Having that understanding from doing aspects of the work of the other roles transforms people’s ability to work together and collaborate effectively and appreciate the challenges and the inputs that they’re getting from across the team.

It always used to drive me nuts. I used to get very frustrated with our network architects because they would say, “Take the server down at 3:00.” We say, “I can’t just take the server down at 3:00 because that’s when the lawyers are going to be busy finishing their pitch documents or their tenders.” “What about 4:00?” I think, “Are you for real?” They don’t have any concept of what’s going on outside of their immediate silo I guess, which always struck me as quite bizarre that if you work in an organization, you’ve got to understand how the end users work. It always used to frustrate the hell out of me, but that was because I would always be on the more people’s side of technology. We’ve talked a bit about that hierarchy and how that reflects in society. What do you think we can all do to make a difference and change?

It’s important for team members to be reflective about what they see going on in the team and help essentially empower each other to be able to contribute their best. Looking around the team and asking yourself the question of, “Who’s not here? Who’s not in the room as we’re making decisions?” That’s a real key question. Often, when someone physically may not be there, they might be nobody of a particular gender represented in the room where it could be a specific person is excluded from a particular decision-making context or it could be that they speak up, but no one listens to what they have to say. The first thing that we can all do quite simply is to ask ourselves that within our context when we’re making decisions, who’s not here and how can we help? Bring them in and make sure that they’ve got a voice within those decisions.

In the work that you do, do you see that’s starting to make a difference where you’ve done that type of work with organizations?

There’s always something that people contribute that you don’t expect. When you get a different voice in the room, it opens up understanding it’s not just seen otherwise. One of the reasons this is so important within tech especially is as we’re building more systems that are making automated decisions about people, particularly with regards to artificial intelligence, the only way that we’re supporting the potential pitfalls and issue areas are when people who understand its application and how it can impact people who’ve got experience of that who can see from their own experience something that others who don’t have that experience or don’t notice. Often, it’s that broader understanding of the domain that comes from having lots of different diverse people represented is important for getting solutions that are equally beneficial for everybody.

Very often, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you don’t have that lived experience, it might never hurt you to think about X because X isn’t anywhere on your horizon. I guess the higher up levels in the hierarchy ensure, invite or encourage the lower-level hierarchy to speak up, the more often they will have the confidence to speak up. For it to make a difference, it’s the stone in the pond and allowing the ripple effect to work its way out.

One case study that I love is this book, Rebel Ideas, by an author called Matthew Syed. He wrote about how one particular airline had transformed itself. It had a bad safety record based in South Korea where it’s a hierarchical society. They discovered an awful lot of the accidents that were happening. The second-in-command pilot had seen what was coming but had been unable to speak up effectively to warn the captain that there was a problem that needed urgent attention.

People should give everybody equal opportunity to progress in their careers.

What they did was train everybody to set expectations, empower the more junior members of the crew to be able to speak up, and raise the safety alerts. That completely turned around the safety record and, nowadays, an exemplary airline that has no issues at all in that regard. The oil and gas industry made very similar recommendations as a result of the deep-water horizon accident that there were lots of warning signs that weren’t effectively heard. Being able to recognize what the people who are on the ground are saying, but not at that point in a hierarchy where you expect to listen to them. That stuff really matters. We’ve got to hear what that is because that’s where some real key insights are coming from.

It’s incredible how the Korean Airline was able to turn around their safety records simply by influencing the hierarchy and giving everybody the permission to speak up and say something. That seems crazy that you’re having an accident because you’re too scared or you don’t have the right status to speak up about something. Thank you so much. I enjoyed this fascinating conversation. Finally, how can readers reach out to you to find out more about the work you do or the work that Inclusioneering does?

I’m quite active on LinkedIn. You can find me quite easily on LinkedIn under my name @JoStansfield, or you can take a look on the web at Inclusioneering.com. You can find me there too.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this conversation between me and Jo, where we started talking about the hierarchy in technology teams and how that affects the gender pay gap. I hope that’s been helpful for you.

Important links:

About Jo Stansfield

CGP 4 | Tech Industry HierarchyJo began her career as an engineer, progressing to senior management in leading global product development teams delivering enterprise software for the oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and marine sectors. Working in male-dominated industries sparked Jo’s curiosity about the lack of diversity she encountered and inspired her to pivot her focus from the technical to the human dimensions of engineering.

Having recently completed her MSc in Organisational and Business Psychology, Jo is now able to leverage her business psychology skillset in pursuit of companies’ DEI agenda.

Jo’s experiences have reinforced her belief that diverse perspectives and talent recruitment are fundamental to the sustainability of the technology industry, and for the markets and communities it serves.

CGP 3 | Career Friendly Workplace

How Being A Carer-Friendly Workplace Will Help You Close Your Gender Pay Gap

The demands of full-time work and balancing that with caring responsibilities can be extremely difficult.

In this episode, we explore:

  • The scale and impact of caring for elderly relatives on top of a full-time job
  • The working definition of a working carer
  • The challenges that working carers face
  • How this will be affecting your gender pay gap
  • What you can do to become a carer-friendly employer so that this doesn’t have a negative impact on your gender pay gap.

Key resources mentioned in this episode:

Book an exploratory chat:

I’m offering exploratory calls with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap. If you’d like a totally transparent conversation about how working with me could support your organisation’s talent goals, email me to book a call now: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk

Sign up to newsletter:

If you’re looking to stay in touch with the latest industry trends, research, and best practice to develop and retain your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap in technology and bring major benefits to your organization in 2021 and beyond, sign up to my monthly newsletter here: http://www.sherrybevan.co.uk/newsletter-signup/

Connect with Sherry:

Email me: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SherryRB

Connect with me LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherrybevan/

Listen to the podcast here

How Being A Carer-Friendly Workplace Will Help You Close Your Gender Pay Gap

In this episode, I would like to explore with you how your working carers are affecting your gender pay gap and what you can do to support those carers in order to close your gender pay gap. The impact of COVID-19 and with more and more of us working from home on a permanent basis means that for the first time, many employers have gained much more of an understanding of how many of their employees do have caring responsibilities. I’m not talking here about those of us who are caring for children. Typically, we already know whether or not someone has got childcare responsibilities in our team or department. What I’m talking about are those people who have got caring responsibilities for elderly relatives and how this can affect your gender pay gap in ways that you might never even have thought about.

Having autonomy and power of flexibility in people’s working hours with caring responsibilities is valuable.

Before we look at what you can do to support those working carers, let’s first of all start by looking at the scale and impact of this across the UK. From that, you can extrapolate how this is likely to be affecting your workforce and how many of your workforce it is likely to be affecting. According to Carers UK, 6.5 million people in the UK are carers. Of those, approximately 40% are caring for a parent or a parent-in-law, 4% are caring for a grandparent and 7% for another relative, perhaps an uncle or a sister. If your carer is aged between 45 and 64, typically, these are the people who are going to be your senior leaders. They’re very likely to be caring for someone living elsewhere. For example, an elderly parent who is still living in their own home or sheltered housing.

What the NHS tells us is that 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, which adds on another whole complex layer to the caring responsibility. For about 72% of our working carers, that care that they provide, whether that’s a few hours a week or a day, that’s on top of full-time paid work. During the pandemic, during the research published during National Carers Week by Carers UK, we discovered that 72% of those working carers have not had a break at all during the pandemic. As you would expect, more of these carers are likely to be women than men.

Definition Of Working Carers

Working carers are people who work and have caring responsibilities. Throughout this episode, I’m focused specifically on those working carers who are caring for an elderly relative. There are two ways that this tends to happen. We have the gradual onset as a parent becomes more and more dependent, needing more medical care, less able to care for themselves and that gradually increases over time. You find yourself spending more and more time looking after that parent or going around to help them. We have a sudden onset that will follow an accident, illness or bereavement. I would like to share two stories that will give you an example of each of these scenarios.

CGP 3 | Carer Friendly Workplace
Career Friendly Workplace: Supporting the carers by promoting an open culture and providing training is essential.

“At the start, mom’s care needs were mainly physical and I would pop in once or twice a week, then she was diagnosed with dementia, too. It got harder on top of a long working week too. I even moved house so I could be nearer. There was no time left for me. Mom was no longer independent, but she didn’t want to go into a home.” In the second story, “I got the call you dread on New Year’s Eve. ‘It’s the London Ambulance Service. It’s your father. There’s nothing that can be done. We’re sorry.’ He was 85. It was a good age, but he had been full-time care of his wife with advanced dementia. My life turned upside down overnight because I couldn’t leave her. Carers were coming in three times a day to care for her, but it wasn’t enough. I ended up finishing my contract a month early to be able to cope.” That story is my personal story. It’s why I’ve got such a keen interest in how we support our caring workers, but also the impact that this is having on an organization’s gender pay gap.

Let’s look at what we mean by working carers. The working definition that was developed by Employers For Carers doesn’t include those individuals who are employed as a professional carer or whose caring role relates solely to a child or to children. When we talk about working carers, we’re talking about the people who are responsible for the care and support of relatives or friends, who are older, disabled or seriously ill, whether that’s physically or mentally and therefore unable to care for themselves. We see a whole range of experiences, from the carer who is providing a few hours a week to the carer who is providing constant support. That carer might be at home, but as we’ve already heard, the carers may well be traveling to support someone in their own home.

What we see is we have periods of high and low demand, depending on the health of that individual person that we’re caring for and the tasks that we’re doing. It might involve personal care. It probably involves handling finances, coordinating with medical and care services, doing the cleaning, cooking or doing the shopping. It can either be a gradual process as you start to realize that your parent or parents can no longer manage on their own or more of a sudden experience following illness, accident or bereavement as it did in my case.

Who are these people who are providing this care? Let’s explore a little bit more about them. What we do know is that women, especially over the age of 40, are more likely to take on caring responsibilities than men. In fact, when we look at the statistics, 1 in 4 women aged 50 to 64 is providing care. Look at that age, 50 to 64, women over the age of 40. That there are your senior leaders, the women who are at the peak of their careers, whether they’re in engineering, project management or service delivery. We are becoming the generation of sandwich carers. We’re having children later and we’re living longer. Women are much more likely to be sandwich carers, where we’re caring for both a young child and an elderly parent. In fact, the peak age for sandwich caring is 40 to 49.

Most caring workers are women who are forced to give up work at the peak of their careers, making a huge impact on their career progression.

Juggling the demands of full-time work and balancing that with caring responsibilities can be difficult. What we see is that there is a lack of carer-friendly workplace policies. For example, paid care leave or flexible working and this combined with a lack of sufficient, high quality and affordable social care services mean an increasing number of employees. Often, these caring workers are women. They’re forced to give up work at the peak of their careers. It has a huge impact on women’s career progression, as well as on their long-term financial security and the wider economy. Therefore, it’s going to have a big impact on your gender pay gap.

We know from the research commissioned by CIPD in 2020, in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, that in England and Wales, there are 3.7 million working carers. For 72% of those carers, they’re doing that care on top of full-time paid work. However, 44% of those working carers have said that they find it hard to combine paid employment and caring responsibilities. What we see is that they experienced difficulties with concentrating at work. They tend to reduce their working hours, so they feel able to cope. They will often turn down job offers, refuse to get a promotion or might decide against applying for a new role because they’re going through and experiencing emotional and physical exhaustion with high-stress levels and feeling completely overwhelmed.

They use up their annual leave or sick time in order to provide care, which means that they have no personal free time. In fact, many of them are in danger of burning out. They will often work at the weekends to make up the hours that they might have used during a normal working week on caring responsibilities. Interestingly, from the data, we see that there was a gender difference. Twenty-five percent of men had been able to take paid leave to provide care, compared with 15% of women. Is that because women might worry about how it might be perceived or maybe it’s that they’re already using that annual leave for childcare purposes?

It affects the gender pay gap because typically, the working carers are women. They struggle to balance their caring responsibilities with work commitments because they’re doing the caring on top of full-time paid work. In fact, only 2/5 of working carers believe that their employer was carer-friendly. More than a quarter of these working carers haven’t told anybody else at work about their caring role. One of the reasons they don’t tell anybody is because they believe that nothing would change even if they did. However, if you provide carers with the support that they need, it will benefit both the carer and you as the employer because it will help to improve employee well-being, reduce absenteeism, increase employee engagement and talent retention, and help to close your gender pay gap.

It affects opportunities for women on so many levels. It means that with those women, if they’re reducing their working hours or quitting to avoid burning out, you’re starting to see a lack of females in senior roles, which means it’s making it the norm for men to be visible as the decision-makers. Therefore, it affects how many female sponsors are available in your organization to sponsor those more junior women coming up, which means we’re continuing that cycle of a lack of gender diversity and female presence in senior roles. Effectively, we’ve become stuck in a traditional and inflexible way of working. Women are being excluded from those more senior roles in higher earning potential because they have external commitments, which are equally as inflexible. Caring for children and elderly relatives are not flexible responsibilities.

CGP 3 | Carer Friendly Workplace
Career Friendly Workplace: Having more women in senior-level roles has a direct, immediate, and tangible impact on the gender pay gap. It can also act as a catalyst for a less tangible and yet positive shift in cultural change.

Having more women in senior-level roles has a direct, immediate and tangible impact on the gender pay gap, but it can also act as a catalyst for a less tangible and yet positive shift in your cultural change. Half of the working carers felt that their caring responsibilities had affected their job. Most working carers have experienced difficulty concentrating at work because of their caring responsibilities. They’re feeling mentally and physically exhausted. They’re overwhelmed, stressed and burning out. That’s why 30% of these working carers have reduced their hours of work. Thirty-six percent of them have refused a job offer or promotion, or they’ve decided against applying for jobs because of their caring responsibilities and they can’t see how they’re going to be able to balance caring with working. Twenty-nine percent of them have said they’re considering reducing their working hours and 24% are thinking of giving up their job altogether because of their caring role. This will affect your overall gender pay gap.

From the research, we know that what working carers value most is being able to use the telephone or having private time to make and receive calls. That call to the GP or social care needs to be made during a normal working day. What’s also valued is being offered counseling or well-being support through your employee assistance program, a formal policy on unpaid or paid leave for carers and signposting to external sources of support. Working carers are so overwhelmed and lacking in free time that they simply don’t have the time to find out where else they can get support, what support is available, giving them guidance on organizational support. Perhaps providing a carer’s network or forum, having carers awareness days and making use of the National Carers Week to highlight the impact that this might be having on your workforce.

What’s valuable is having autonomy and flexibility in their working hours. It’s not just the flexibility in working hours, but it’s having the autonomy and power to decide how those working hours can be flexible. Flexible working, for example, the ability to work from home on some days, having access to job share, compressed hours or annualized hours. There are barriers to support. The carers simply don’t tell in their network. They don’t tell the HR and occupational health. They might not even have told their line manager. If they have done that, they’ve often done it on an informal basis, but 28% of these working carers haven’t told anyone at work at all.

There’s a general lack of awareness of what support is available within an organization. Even if people are aware that there is support available, there’s that lack of awareness of how to access that support. These people, typically women, are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. They have very little free time. They feel like they’ve got problems associated with how they organize their work and working time. They’re worried and concerned that if they ask for support that it’s going to damage their future career prospects and so they don’t tell anyone at work, which means they’re more likely to be experiencing overwhelm, stress and potentially burnout.

Women working carers go through emotional and physical exhaustion with high levels of stress and feeling of overwhelm.

Support Of Employers

As an employer, there are some things that you can do to help and support those working carers. The first thing is to have a carer policy or at least a framework or guidance, and including that, a clear definition of what it means to be a carer. To outline the different roles and responsibilities and, importantly, to communicate what your approach is so that you start to embed a culture of support. Flexible working for everyone, but at least introduce flexible working to support working carers. Make sure that when you hire, you’re hiring flexible. Be very transparent about your flexible working practices. What can be powerful is for you to empower line managers to support flexible workers in the way that suits the team or department.

You can also support those working carers by providing carer’s leave, whether that’s paid or unpaid. The one thing you do need to be aware of with a carer’s leave is that you need to be flexible and adaptable. If somebody needs a carer’s leave or if they need to take time off, it’s likely to be in an emergency. Therefore, it’s likely to be requested at very short notice. You can also help your line managers to support the carers by promoting an open culture, being knowledgeable about your organization’s approach to supporting carers. Providing training for those people who are managing teams or departments, so they know exactly what is available, how to signpost those working carers and get engaged senior leaders in supporting carers so that you start to create a more inclusive culture.

You can also provide information and peer-to-peer support. You could think of developing an in-house support group for carers or providing information on workplace support and make sure that’s readily available for everyone. If you’re not able to provide support in-house, then at least signpost to other sources of information. These working carers, these women who are your senior leaders, are short on time to research and find out what else is available. In summary, we are the sandwich generation. Women are more likely than men to take on those caring responsibilities and be taken on those caring responsibilities on top of a full-time paid job. Working carers tend to affect women who are at the peak of their careers. These sandwich carers are typically aged between 40 and 49. 1 in 4 women, age 50 to 64, is providing care.

Those women are your senior leaders. Those are the women who are becoming stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. They’re burning out, which means that it’s affecting their productivity, creativity and decision-making. They turn down promotions, ask for reduced hours or quit altogether, which means that you’re losing women from the top and upper-middle quarters. You’re losing your role models. That means that your gender pay gap will stagnate or even widen.

I hope you found this useful to read about how you can support your working carers and how doing that will allow you to start to close your gender pay gap. If you would like a conversation about how to support your working carer so that you can start to close your gender pay gap, please do get in touch with me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back very soon.

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CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic

COVID-19 And The Gender Pay Gap: Why Women May Have Less Chances Of Promotion After The Pandemic

40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work from home after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, and many of these are women. The danger is that women will become less active and less visible in the workplace. With less visibility comes lesser chances of promotion.

In this episode, we explore:

  • why Covid-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a bigger impact on women’s careers than on men’s, even in the technology sector
  • how the future workplace and the introduction of hybrid working is going to affect women’s career prospects
  • the risk of hybrid working on the visibility of women and how this will have a negative impact on your organisation’s gender pay gap
  • what you can do to stop this from happening and protect your reputation as a forward-thinking employer striving to attract, develop, and retain female talent in its workforce.

Key resources mentioned in this episode:

Annual report 2020 of the Women and Work All Parliamentary Group

Hackajob’s survey on What Do Tech Talent Want in 2021

Stanford Graduate School of Business: Does Working From Home Work?

PwC’s Women In Work Index 2020

Find out more about the Women In Technology Leadership programme HERE.

Book an exploratory chat:

Book an exploratory chat with me! I’m offering exploratory calls with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap.

If you’d like a totally transparent conversation about how working with me could support your organisation’s talent goals, email me to book a call now: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk.

Sign up to newsletter:

If you’re looking to stay in touch with the latest industry trends, research, and best practice to develop and retain your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap and bring major benefits to your organisation in 2021 and beyond, sign up to my monthly newsletter here: http://www.sherrybevan.co.uk/newsletter-signup/.

Connect with Sherry:

Email me: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SherryRB

Connect with me LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherrybevan/

Listen to the podcast here

COVID-19 And The Gender Pay Gap: Why Women May Have Less Chances Of Promotion After The Pandemic

Welcome back to this episode in which we’re going to explore how COVID-19 is having a bigger impact on women’s careers than on men and what employers can do about it. I’m sure if we were all back in the office, we’d be swapping stories of how we got the barbecue out for the first time, how busy the beaches and parks were, how good it was to have a sunny bank holiday weekend whereas there’ll be many of us also wishing at the same time that it would rain because the garden needs a good soak. I’ll happily confess that I’m in that second camp wishing that it would rain so I can get my plants a good soaking. I’ve been sheltering from the sun so that I can finalise the preparations for my next Women In Technology Leadership Programme, which started on June 28, 2021.

Not only has COVID-19 affected our conversations after the bank holiday weekend. I don’t know about you but it seems that every week there’s a new report being published on how COVID-19 is having a negative impact on women and on their careers which means that longer-term, the gender pay gap will widen. You might be thinking, “It’s not a big problem for us in technology,” because after all the lockdown has mainly affected those sectors where women are overrepresented, such as hospitality, arts, retail, childcare which have all been shut down for long periods of time.

What you’ve got to remember is that across all sectors, including technology, women were more likely to be trying to balance full-time working and full-time homeschooling. The report from the Women and Work All Parliamentary Party Group shows that women were more likely to have requested furlough holiday or unpaid leave so they could homeschool despite their worries that this would put their careers on hold and that in the long-term that ultimately pay the price by missing out on promotion opportunities. Indeed, we know that many women decided to quit the workforce altogether rather than risk complete burnout of trying to do it all.

Explore the growth mindset so that you can identify any limiting behaviours.

The good news is over the years, all countries across the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have made consistent gains towards progress for women in work. In the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Index they studied a range of factors, including the gender pay gap and female unemployment. It showed that progress for women in work is expected to fall more than 2% between 2019 and 2021. It warned that progress towards gender equality needs to be twice as fast as its historical rate, simply in order to undo the damage caused by COVID-19 to women in work. As you know, gender pay gap reporting has been compulsory for employers in the UK with 250 more employees since 2017. This means employees must report the salary difference between male and female workers. In 2020, compulsory reporting was suspended at the outbreak of the pandemic. It’s not going to restart until October in 2021.

There’s a great quote that I’d like to share from Laura Hinton, who is PwC’s Chief People Officer. She says, “It’s paramount that gender pay gap reporting is prioritised. We’ve targeted action plans, put in place as businesses focused on building back better and fairer.”

Indeed, the CMI strongly recommends employers to develop time-bound, target-driven action plans to address the issues arising out of your Pay Gap analysis.

Having a published action plan sends a clear commitment to your staff, customers, shareholders and to other stakeholders that you understand what is causing any pay gaps and more importantly, that you’re going to take meaningful steps to address those challenges.

CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic
Promotion After The Pandemic: Many women decided to quit the workforce over the past 12 months rather than risk complete burnout of trying to do it all.

COVID-19 has brought positives too. We’ve all experienced more workplace flexibility than we might ever have imagined years ago. In September 2020, CIPD published a report on new ways of working post-pandemic. It showed that 40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. If you compare that before the pandemic when they expected 5% of their workforce to work regularly from home, many workers don’t want to go back to the standard 9 to 5 in the office.

Technology is not an exception. In a survey by the tech job market platform, Hackajob, 86% of technology professionals want a work-from-home arrangement after the pandemic. Of the 1,700 technologists surveyed, only 14% of them want to go back to a company office on a full-time basis. Around 25% of them want to work remotely on a permanent basis and 60% had said that they’d be happy with a hybrid solution so that they work from the office occasionally and spend the rest of the week working from home.

We’ve seen a flurry of hybrid working announcements from forward-thinking employers. As we know genuine flexible working has always been very appealing and very persuasive to attract the best female talent. Deutsche Bank confirmed it has moved to adopt hybrid working and plans to mix office days with remote working. The Bank of Ireland has said they will implement a hybrid working model for its workforce and it’s going to establish hubs that will allow staff to use desks and attend meetings. Although flexible working was already in place before the first lockdown, the pandemic has accelerated the longer-term strategy for the bank. Accountancy firm KPMG told 16,000 staff that they can leave early one day a week, as part of a move towards more flexible working after lockdown. This is part of their strategy to promote wellbeing.

Not all organizations are going down this route. We’ve seen from Google that they’re actively encouraging staff to return to the office for at least three days a week. Goldman Sachs has told its UK bankers that they need to be ready to return to the office when lockdown restrictions are expected to be lifted. While we’ve all been working from home, it didn’t matter where you were based. We’ve all been equally remote and therefore equally visible. While working from home has brought its challenges with home life distractions, trying to balance that working from home with homeschooling, fighting over who gets the home office space versus who’s going to be perched at the kitchen table, there’s less of that water cooler chat where you can share challenges and get fresh insights.

Many of us do prefer to work from home because it allows for a better work-life balance. You don’t have the stress to commute. Very often it means you can be more productive with fewer distractions. The danger though from a gender pay gap point of view is that if more women than men take up the option of remote working, women will become less visible in the workplace. We know that visibility matters even when management says it doesn’t. A new study from the ONS, the Office for National Statistics, says that people who mainly work from home prior to the pandemic were far less likely to receive a promotion or a bonus compared with their office-based counterparts.

Visibility at work is a critical factor for progress at work. Less visibility will lead to women being less likely to get promotions and the accompanying pay rise which means that your gender pay gap will widen as a result. This isn’t a new problem for remote workers. If we go back to 2015, researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that while people working from home were 13% more productive, they were not promoted at the same rate as their in-office colleagues. The study’s lead author commented that it was striking that promotion rates plummeted. It was roughly half the promotion rate compared to those in the office. Why is that? What can we learn from that as we go to a more hybrid working practice in the future?

CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic
Promotion After The Pandemic: Many of us prefer to work from home because it allows for a better work-life balance.

This study suggested that there were two key reasons. First, if you’re working from home, you don’t have the same opportunity to develop relationships and managerial skills. Secondly, you may well have those skills and the skills to develop relationships remotely, but you don’t have the same opportunities to demonstrate those skills and relationships. It’s out of sight, out of mind. In another study published in 2019 reported that remote workers whose promotion prospects suffer because of lack of FaceTime find that their workload increases. This comes back to the presenteeism thing. Office-based colleagues are often perceived to be working harder even if they’re working badly, whereas those who work from home often end up going above and beyond to make up the perceived difference, so they don’t get forgotten.

When we look at who wants to work from home, those with a higher preference for working more days at home tend to be people with disabilities, people with children and women. The danger is if you let people choose, it’s likely to be the young, ambitious, single man who doesn’t want to work from home. They’ll come into the office and be visible. Therefore, charge ahead in their careers while others who feel invisible fall behind and don’t get promoted, which means that in a few years’ time, you’ll observe an even greater lack of diversity in your leadership. However, it’s within your control. You have the power to determine the long-term effects of the pandemic on your female talent pipeline. You can raise awareness of how communication and behaviour at work affect how you’re likely to be perceived by coworkers and senior management.

You have the power to determine the long-term effects of the pandemic on your female talent pipeline.

You can teach employees how to get more visible so that they make a big impact in the workplace even if they’re regularly working from home. You can educate your female talent so they know how to appreciate their unique strengths so that they can clearly articulate their skills, ambitions, value to the business and be able to communicate that to their senior management. You can communicate the importance of setting and maintaining clear boundaries so that your female talent doesn’t start to burn out because they’re going above and beyond to make up that perceived difference. If they burn out, then ultimately, they’ll quit. You can support your promising female leadership talent to build networks both internally and externally, so they feel less isolated, which means they’re more likely to put themselves forward for promotion.

You can do this yourself. You can design and deliver a series of workshops, run brown bag lunchtime drop-ins. You could publish useful career advice on your internet. You could run your own internal leadership development program, invest in executive one-to-one coaching or send your female talent to an external leadership development program such as the one that I run. The additional benefit is that you’re sending a powerful message. It clearly communicates your organization’s awareness of the impact of COVID-19 on women’s careers. It will demonstrate your commitment to female talent development and your commitment to closing the gender pay gap.

Why is it important? How does it help you to close the gender pay gap? First, it enhances your reputation as an employer, taking proactive steps to develop, retain its female talent, helping them to show up and be more visible even if they’re working more often from home. That means you’re more likely to attract the best female talent in the first place. My program offers blended learning and development in a structured format in which we explore the key principles of authentic leadership so that participants develop their leadership skills, they get to improve on their negotiation skills, build and nurture their resilience, enhance their communication skills and raise their levels of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. All of this means that they’re going to be better informed and equip to take personal responsibility and ownership for managing their own career with more confidence and purpose. It’s not all down to you.

During the program, we’ll take time to allow the participants to get crystal clear on their strengths and how to leverage these. We explore a growth mindset so that we can identify any limiting behaviours. The idea of that is that women then can continue to grow and develop even after the program finishes. Whether you run a leadership development program in-house or send your staff to an external supplier, it builds an internal network. There’s more cross-departmental promotion of your female talent. The end result is your participants will come away feeling inspired, encouraged and motivated. They become leading role models, which means you start to see a ripple effect across the workforce.

One of the big benefits of a leadership development program is that participants will build and develop that own circle of trust, their internal career support network. This means they’ll feel less isolated and more supported. Therefore, they’re more likely to put themselves forward for promotion because they know they’ve got those cheerleaders in their team. If you’d like to discuss how the Women in Technology Leadership program will stop COVID-19 from having a negative impact on your organisation’s gender pay gap by raising the visibility of women, book a call with me and let’s talk. Thank you for reading. We’ll be back in the next episode.

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CGP 1 | Gender Pay Gap

Addressing The Gender Pay Gap: Why Equal Pay Is Not The Only Solution

Sometimes, when I reach out to technology companies to find out what they’re doing to close their gender pay gap, they tell me “We don’t have a problem, we have an equal pay policy.” You can have an equal pay policy and still have a gender pay gap. The two are related, but they are not the same.

In this episode, we explore the difference between an equal pay policy and the gender pay gap so that you understand how your employer is offering equal pay and still have a gender pay gap. In order to close your gender pay gap, your organisation needs to think more broadly about how to attract, retain, engage, and develop more women through the talent pipeline.

Key resources mentioned in this episode:

Book an exploratory chat:

Book an exploratory chat with me! I’m offering exploratory calls with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap. If you’d like a totally transparent conversation about how working with me could support your organization’s talent goals, email me to book a call now: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk.

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If you’re looking to stay in touch with the latest industry trends, research, and best practice to develop and retain your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap and bring major benefits to your organization in 2021 and beyond, sign up to my monthly newsletter here: http://www.sherrybevan.co.uk/newsletter-signup/.

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Addressing The Gender Pay Gap: Why Equal Pay Is Not The Only Solution

My name is Sherry Bevan and you are reading the blog Closing The Gender Pay Gap.

In this episode, we are going to be looking at the difference between equal pay and the gender pay gap. Very often, what I find at the start of a relationship with a client is that they tell me, “We have an equal pay policy. We are okay. We don’t have a problem. We don’t have a gender pay gap because we apply equal pay for equal work.” That is brilliant and fantastic. I applaud you for having that equal pay policy in place. It’s certainly a foundation step to closing your gender pay gap. However, the fact that you have an equal pay policy does not mean that you don’t also have a gender pay gap because the two are quite different and measuring different things. That’s what we are going to explore. We are going to take a look and dive deeper into what we mean by equal pay. We are also going to explore what we mean by the gender pay gap and how the two are related.

That’s a very quick plug for that. If you want to send people, it’s £3,000 per person but as I said, the door is closed on the 25th of June 2021 so you do need to get in touch very quickly.

And very briefly about the program itself: it follows a structured format running over 24 weeks and we will explore key principles of authentic leadership, negotiation skills, communication skills and emotional intelligence. It’s blended learning so it includes an element of one-to-one coaching with each individual participant as well as group work and some online resources. Do get in touch.

Email me if you would like to talk about sending somebody on that course.

What Is Equal Pay?

Let’s get back then to equal pay and the gender pay gap. What’s the difference between the two and how do they relate to each other? Equal pay is the right for men and women to be paid the same by their employer for doing equal work. If you’ve got an equal pay policy, then that’s fantastic. It’s very much a foundation for closing that gender pay gap because you can have equal pay and have a gender pay gap. Barbara Castle was the Labour and Employment Minister who introduced the Equal Pay Bill back in 1970, though it didn’t come into force until 1975 – on the same day as the Sex Discrimination Act.

Why tech companies need to understand the difference between equal pay and the gender pay gap

When we talk about equal pay, it applies to pay, salary, and all the other terms and conditions of employment including your pension, working hours, the annual leave allowance, holiday pay, overtime pay, redundancy pay, sick pay and performance-related pay. For example, if there’s a bonus in the employment contract as well as other benefits such as gym membership or a company car, equal pay is a legal obligation. The original Equal Pay Act came in 1970 but the Equal Pay law is now covered by the Equality Act of 2010 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Statutory Code of Practice on Equal Pay.

Let’s think about who has a right to equal pay, what that means, when might differences be allowed, and then how does that relate to the gender pay gap? Let’s start by thinking about who has a right to equal pay in the UK. In fact, it’s all employees, workers, apprentices and agency workers. It’s applicable regardless of, whether somebody works full-time, part-time if they are on a temporary or permanent contract. It also applies to self-employed people who had to personally do the work.

CGP 1 | Gender Pay Gap
Gender Pay Gap: It’s important that you understand why you have a gender pay gap so that you can do something about it.

When we are looking at the equal pay law, equal work means like-work where the job and the skills are the same or similar but it can also apply to work rated as equivalent. That’s usually done using a fair job evaluation and it could be rated as equivalent because it’s the level of skill, the responsibility and the effort needed to do the work. We also have work of equal value so work that is not similar but it is of equal value and that might be because of the skill and training required, the responsibility or the demands of the working conditions. Two different jobs can be classed as equal work even if the roles themselves are completely different.

When are differences allowed? There are occasions when you might be allowed by law to pay somebody differently than someone of the opposite sex who does similar work. You can do this if that person is better qualified. If their skills are crucial to the job and they are hard to recruit. You can also do that. I pay them more depending on where they are located. For example, if your staff is based in London where the cost of living is higher, you might pay those staff more than you pay staff who perhaps based in Plymouth. You can also pay somebody differently if they do night shifts and the employer can prove that they can only cover those night shifts by paying staff more. Those are when the differences can be allowed for equal pay.

If you don’t do anything about gender pay gap, it’s likely that you’ve failed to attract the best talent out there.

There was a European Court ruling against Tesco. The female workers at Tesco who worked on the shop floor argued that they fail to receive equal pay for work of equal value when they compare themselves to the workers in a different location in the warehouses in the distribution centres, and this follows on from a ruling from the Supreme Court back in March 2021, that workers on the shop floor Aster could compare themselves with employees or workers in their work warehouses and distribution centres. You can see the people working on the shop floor are doing something quite different to the warehouses and distribution centres. However, it has been deemed that those two different jobs are of equal value and therefore, those workers should receive equal pay. That’s likely to be quite an expensive ruling for both Aster and Tesco.

The Gender Pay Gap

Let’s move on then and think about the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap relates to the shape of your workforce and the difference in average earnings between women and men. There are lots of reasons why you might have an equal pay policy and have a gender pay gap. For example, if you’ve got lots of women who are on predominantly lower grades or working in less well-paying parts of the business if women tend to leave before promotion, if you’ve got lots of men in the more senior roles or if a high number of your female workforce only work part-time, the gender pay gap in itself is not unlawful.

You must understand why you have a gender pay gap so that you can do something about it and you can protect your reputation as somebody else decides that you should be doing something about it. It’s not only your reputational damage that is at risk. If you don’t do anything about your gender pay gap or you don’t even understand, whether or not you have one and what the causes are, then it’s likely to be that you’ve failed to attract the best talent out there. You will find that your attrition rates are much higher than they ought to be. If you are producing diverse products and services for a diverse audience, then you should be having a diverse and inclusive team working on those products and services.

CGP 1 | Gender Pay Gap
Gender Pay Gap: If you’re producing diverse products and services for a diverse audience, you should be having a diverse and inclusive team working on those products and services.

There are financial or business benefits as well. Companies in the top quarter for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform industry medians. A study by Morgan Stanley showed that when you have a better balance or more even balance of men and women in the workforce, those organizations delivered better returns and were less volatile. The more diverse your team, the better it is for profitability. When it comes to the technology sector, in particular, we know that around 78% of large organizations do have a gender pay gap. In fact, when we look at smaller businesses, their gender pay gap appears to be larger. There are lots of reasons for this. We know for a start that fewer women come into technology than into other sectors but there are other reasons that you might be having a gender pay gap as well.

Questions About The Gender Pay Gap You Should Be Asking Your Organisation

Let’s explore some of the questions that you can ask yourself so you can start to understand your gender pay gap, why you have a gender pay gap, and therefore, what can you do about it? The first question to think about is, “Do people get stuck at certain levels?” You can do this by looking at your quarterly breakdowns. Look at the percentage of women versus men in the top quarter, in the upper-middle quarter, your bottom middle and your lower quarter. What we sometimes see in some organisations is that the split between men and women is pretty even in the bottom-middle and the lower quarter and it’s much more out of balance in that upper-middle and top quarter. Look at your quarters and breakdowns of talent, men versus women. Does it look like perhaps women are only getting to a certain stage in your organization and then quitting?

The next thing for you to look at is the gender imbalance in promotions. If you have several men and women in a certain grade or role, start by looking at the proportion of men versus women in that given grade or role. What would you expect to see is that when it comes to applying for promotion, the proportion of men and women applying matches the proportion of people in that grade and then you need to start looking at, “If I have 40% women and 60% men in that particular role, am I getting 40% women applying for promotion? Am I getting 40% women making it to the assessment stage and getting shortlisted and am I promoting 40% of women? Does the proportion of who gets to what stage match what you would expect? Is it relevant to the proportion actually working in that grade?” You can start to analyse and think about what it is because women aren’t applying for promotion or are it because they are not making it through?

You can have equal pay and have a gender pay gap.

The next question for you to think about is, “Are you more likely to recruit women into the lower-paid roles?” You would be looking at where people are coming into the organization and what roles they are being recruited into. Are you finding that your men and women are leaving at different rates, particularly looking at your more senior, higher-paid roles? Does the proportion of men and women leaving match or relate to the number of women at that grade? Are there particular aspects of your pay that differ by gender, for example, starting pay or bonuses? When it comes to starting salary, do you allow for negotiation at that starting stage? What we do know from all the research is that men tend to negotiate more often on their starting salary. Women do it less often, perhaps have less confidence about it but interestingly, if women do negotiate, they are often judged more harshly because it’s not what we are expecting of a typical female coming into a position.

The next thing to look at then is, do men and women receive different performance scores on average? You need to delve into your data, break it down by job and grade. Another thing to think about is, does it incorporate a self-assessment of performance and look at that separately?

Again, what we know from the research is that men tend to overinflate their self-assessment scores and women tend to underrate themselves. They rate themselves lower than what their manager would rate them.

CGP 1 | Gender Pay Gap
Gender Pay Gap: Companies in the top quarter for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform against industry medians.

Another aspect to think about are your part-time employees or your remote workers. How do you actively support them to progress in their careers? Is it a well-known thing in your organisation that if you are working part-time that you don’t get promoted? What about your remote workers? That perhaps is even more important to think about now that we are starting to see a more hybrid workplace in 2021 as we are coming out of lockdown.

The next thing to think about is, “Are you supporting both men and women to take on caring responsibilities?” This is where I would encourage you to look at the uptake of flexible working. What about shared parental leave or paternity leave? If you do an employee engagement survey, what do employees feel about taking up flexible working? Do they feel supported to do it? Do they feel supported if they work part-time? Are your staff even aware of what options are available?

The gender pay gap relates to the shape of your workforce and the difference in average earnings between women and men.

You may well have an equal pay policy but you might also have a gender pay gap for all of those different reasons that we have outlined. We know that 15% of people working in STEM in the UK are female and only 5% of leadership positions in STEM are female. The pay gap overall in the technology sector is around 19% and the bonus difference is around 41%, which is pretty big. We have looked at the difference STEM between equal pay and the gender pay gap and why you could have an equal pay policy but actually, you have a large gender pay gap. It’s not that the gender pay gap on its own is unlawful but it does make sense for you to be understanding why you have a gender pay gap so that you can do something about it.

Otherwise, you have and you also risk losing out on market share. We have looked then at the difference between equal pay and the gender pay gap. We have explored why having an equal pay policy on its own does not mean that you don’t also have a gender pay gap. It’s not that the gender pay gap is unlawful but it makes sense that you understand why you have a gender pay gap so that you can understand what’s causing it and do something about it. We know that organizations that invest in their female talent and close that gender pay gap will do better in the long-term. I will be back very soon with the next episode. I hope you have enjoyed this one. If you do want to send women to my Women in Technology Leadership Programme, please get in touch very quickly because doors close on 25th of June.

I will talk to you next time.

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About Sherry Bevan

A former Global Head of IT Service in a City law firm, my 25+ years’ leadership experience at firms such as Arthur Andersen (now Deloitte), Credit Suisse and McDermott Will & Emery gives me a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by women in technology.

At the heart of what I do is creating clarity for women so that they get the confidence to lead in a way that amplifies their natural strengths and styles.

We all know that inclusion should be the norm and that inclusive organizations are more successful, more productive and more impactful. We feel the pressure to reduce the pay gap and improve pay transparency while maintaining company culture.

You can speed up the change by bringing in an experienced consultant, trainer and coach to help you close that gap.

How hybrid working will widen the gender pay gap

With the news that the government remains cautious about deciding whether to end all Covid restrictions in England on 21 June, we are all eagerly awaiting details of the next stage out of lockdown.

Every day there’s another story about the havoc being wreaked in the wake of Covid-19.

And every week, a new report is published on how Covid-19 is having a negative impact on women and their careers which means that the gender pay gap will widen. 

While we all recognise that women are over-represented in the hardest hit sectors such as hospitality, leisure and retail which have been shut down for long periods of time, across all sectors, women are more likely to be trying to balance full-time working and for several months full-time home-schooling. 

This means that women were more likely to have requested furlough, holiday or unpaid leave so they could home-school (reported by the Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group) despite their worries that this would put their careers on hold and that they’d ultimately pay the price by missing out on promotion opportunities.

Indeed, many women decided to quit the workforce altogether, rather than risk complete burnout. 

All of this will contribute to widening, not closing, your gender pay gap.

On the other hand, we’ve experienced more workplace flexibility than we might ever have imagined. 

We’ve seen that remote working really does work BUT there is a danger that the continuance of remote working in the future will widen the gender pay gap?

In September last year CIPD published a report on new ways of working post- pandemic which showed that 40% of employers expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. 

Heralding the ‘flexible working’ of the future

We’re seeing a flurry of ‘flexible working’ announcements from forward-thinking employers:

  • For example, the Bank of Ireland UK has said it will establish “hubs” to allow staff to use desks and attend meetings.
  • Professional services firm KPMG has told its 16,000 staff they can leave early one day a week as part of a move towards more flexible working after lockdown.
  • EY told its 17,000 staff that the accountancy firm will move to a “hybrid working model”, mixing work in the home and the office and that staff will be expected to work from home for at least two days a week.

While we’ve all been working from home, it didn’t matter where you were based. We’ve all been equally remote and, therefore, equally visible.  

However, from the research, we know that those more likely to want to work from home more often are people with disabilities, parents of young children and women.

There is a big danger here.

If more women than men take up the option of remote working, women will become even less visible in the workplace. 

Visibility at work is a critical factor for career progress. 

Less visibility will lead to women being less likely to get a promotion and the accompanying pay rise which means that your gender pay gap will widen as a result.  

However as an organisation you can have a positive influence on the long-term effects of the pandemic on your female talent (and therefore your gender pay gap) by: 

  • raising awareness of how communication and behaviour at work affects how you are likely to be perceived by co-workers and senior management 
  • teaching how to get more visible so employees make a bigger impact in the workplace even if working regularly from home
  • educating your female talent how to appreciate their unique strengths, so they can clearly articulate their skills, ambitions and value to the business 
  • communicating the importance of setting and maintaining clear boundaries, so your female talent doesn’t start to burn out and ultimately quit
  • supporting your promising female leadership talent to build career support networks so they feel less isolated which means they are more likely to put themselves forward for promotion
  • submitting your gender pay gap report before 5 October when enforcement action starts so that you have the data you need to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on your gender pay gap.  

You can help to ensure that your female talent knows HOW and WHY to stay visible, even if working from home in a variety of ways e.g. workshops, lunch ‘n’ learns or a leadership development programme. 

Women In Technology Leadership programme

Running a leadership development programme sends a powerful message that clearly communicates your organisation’s awareness of the impact of Covid-19 on women’s careers and demonstrates your commitment to gender diversity and female talent development. 

You may not have the resources or bandwidth in-house to design, develop and deliver a leadership development programme and that’s why I’d like to tell you about my Women In Technology Leadership programme which starts on Monday 28 June.

The Women in Technology Leadership programme has been designed specifically for women working in technology, a traditionally male-dominated environment.

It offers structured blended learning which incorporates 1:1 coaching, group calls and access to online tools and resources so that participants develop their leadership, communication and negotiation skills, build their resilience, grow in emotional intelligence and self-awareness so that your female talent knows HOW to remain visible, even if working remotely, which means that you avoid the negative impact of hybrid working on your gender pay gap.

Get in touch today to book an exploratory call about the Women In Technology Leadership programme.