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World Bank Report Reveals Global Gender Disparity in Workforce Opportunities

A headline that never ceases to disappoint.

It’s natural to feel outraged at the injustice of being denied equal rights and opportunities simply because of one’s gender. The slow pace of reforms, despite the clear economic benefits of gender equality, exacerbate these feelings of disappointment. It highlights a failure of leadership and a lack of urgency in addressing a fundamental issue that impacts the lives of half the global population.

Recent findings from the World Bank highlight a stark reality – no country in the world currently provides women with equal opportunities in the workforce compared to men. This revelation, far exceeding previous estimations, underscores the urgent need for action to bridge the global gender gap.

According to the report, closing this gap could potentially elevate the global gross domestic product by over 20%, presenting a significant economic opportunity for nations worldwide.

For the first time, the report delves into the impact of childcare and safety policies on women’s labour force participation across 190 countries. Shockingly, it reveals that women only enjoy 64% of the legal protections granted to men, a decrease from the previously assumed 77%. Issues such as childcare costs and safety concerns emerge as major barriers hindering women’s full engagement in the workforce.

The report’s 10th edition also sheds light on the disparity between enacted laws and their implementation in bridging gender gaps. Despite laws on equal pay being enacted in 95 countries, only 35 have measures in place to address the pay gap, with women globally earning just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

While some sub-Saharan African nations have shown commendable legislative progress, a significant gap persists between legal reforms and their effective implementation.

Countries like Togo exhibit high numbers of enacted laws but lack sufficient frameworks for execution.

Addressing childcare gaps emerges as a pivotal solution, with the report suggesting that improving childcare accessibility could immediately increase women’s labour force participation by 1%. Yet less than half of the countries offer financial support or tax relief for parents, and even fewer have quality standards for childcare services, leaving parents concerned about their children’s safety.

Moreover, disparities extend to pension benefits, with 81 countries failing to account for childcare-related work absences in women’s pension calculations. Additionally, while 151 countries have laws against workplace sexual harassment, only 40 cover abuse in public spaces or during commutes, leaving women unprotected on their way to work.

Indermit Gill, the World Bank Group’s Chief Economist, emphasises that discriminatory laws and practices globally hinder women’s equal participation in the workforce, potentially doubling global growth if the gender gap were bridged. However, reforms have been slow to materialise, underscoring the urgent need for action.

In the face of such staggering revelations from the World Bank’s latest report, it’s evident that the fight for gender equality in the workforce is far from over. The disparity between enacted laws and their implementation, coupled with persistent barriers such as childcare accessibility and safety concerns, underscores the urgent need for decisive action. It’s imperative that leaders and policymakers across the globe prioritise meaningful reforms to bridge the gender gap. The economic benefits are clear, the moral imperative undeniable. Let’s go beyond merely acknowledge these findings, and heed them as a call to action, ensuring that every individual, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to thrive in the workforce and contribute fully to our collective prosperity. The time for change is now.

 

Written by Lesley Armstrong.


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Killing bias from your Recruitment and Selection

 

I often get asked how to promote Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. When it comes to D&I, it starts with the hiring process. And one of the main blockers to fair and accessible processes is our unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias in hiring refers to the subtle, unintentional, and automatic prejudices or preferences that individuals may hold towards certain groups of people. Unconscious biases are often based on factors such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or other characteristics that are not relevant to a person’s ability to perform a job. These biases can manifest in various ways, including:

  1. Affinity Bias: Preferring candidates who share similar backgrounds, interests, or experiences with the decision-maker.
  2. Halo & Horns Effect: Allowing one positive trait or characteristic to overshadow other relevant factors, or vice versa.
  3. Confirmation Bias: Tending to favour information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or stereotypes about certain groups.
  4. Stereotyping: Making assumptions about individuals based on generalisations and stereotypes associated with their demographic characteristics.

So, how can you fix this? How do you implement fair, unbiased processes that encourage diversity? The answer lies in employing assessment techniques, which removes the gut feeling and guesswork from recruitment.

Benefits of using Assessments

  • Assessments in hiring ensure fair and legally sound practices, supporting diversity and inclusion goals.
  • They offer flexibility for unbiased evaluations in recruitment, redundancy, promotion, and leadership development.
  • Role-specific competencies identified through assessments align with company standards, ensuring precise and inclusive scoring.
  • Evidence-based feedback from assessments provides valuable insights for a transparent and equitable hiring process.
  • Scientifically backed assessment methods eliminates reliance on biased gut feelings, ensuring accurate candidate evaluations.
  • Layering & integrating various assessments establishes a comprehensive approach to reduce bias.

Effective Evaluation Methods

Assessments can come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most effective are those tailored specifically to the requirements of the role. This will ensure you are measuring what matters most and helps you identify the best person for your role. Some example assessments are:

  • Work Sample Tests: Replicate job tasks for a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Integrity Tests: Assess honesty, trustworthiness, and dependability.
  • Conscientiousness Tests: Evaluate responsibility, organisation, and hard work.
  • Structured Employment Interviews: A reliable method for assessing candidates.
  • Behavioural Consistency Method: Leverage past behaviour as a predictor of future success.

Eliminating bias from your hiring process is crucial for building a workplace that values diversity and inclusion. By recognising and tackling unconscious biases with practical assessment methods, you can escape the pitfalls of favouritism and stereotyping.

If you need support creating an assessment process that meets the needs of your organisation, while ensuring fairness, get in touch with us today.

 

Written by Michelle Kearns.


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Brand: Why trying to please everyone is an easy way of pleasing no one

 

A month or two ago, I finished my second round with Game of Thrones, brought on by a recent trip to the Studio tour in Banbridge (10/10, would recommend to a friend). There is one line from the finale that has really stuck with me – so much so that I couldn’t even pinpoint where I had heard it, but it has been rattling around up there for weeks.

‘No one is very happy. Which means it’s a good compromise’. – the one and only, Tyrion Lannister.

I agree wholeheartedly with the statement, particularly for significant decisions (policy, redundancies, or in this case, who rules the Iron Throne). But let’s not ignore the first part of the quote – no one is very happy.

I’m a marketing bod, so hopefully, that provides some context to where I am going with this – but when it comes to your brand, both from the perspective of customers and talent, too much compromise can make for an all-around bland experience. You have spent so long trying to please everyone, that in the end, it hits the mark for no one. It might be an OK exchange, but there will be someone else, somewhere else, that has got it spot on for them. And ultimately, that’s where they will go.

People are diverse with their own blend of preferences. They want authenticity and a brand that personally resonates with them. We live in a world where we are being sold to all day long. Adverts pointed at us in every direction – TV, radio, social media, email, text message, in person. You can barely step outside your door without being met with some form of marketing. The only way to actually stand out? Be different.

How to do it

Firstly, you need to understand who you are as a business. What makes you unique? What do your customers and employees love most about you? Where are your strengths, and more importantly, what are your weaknesses?

From here, you should start to build an idea of what it is you bring to the table, and what you can do that your competitors can’t. That will define your offering.

Then you need to look at who actually wants this. Who are you attracting? This goes deeper than ‘business owners’ or ‘top talent’ – because that’s exactly how we have all fallen into this trap in the first place. What type of people are they? What do they love? What do they hate? What matters most to them when it comes to buying from or joining your business? Even better, who aren’t your people? Who doesn’t need this, or want it? And who don’t you want to work with?

I’ll use a car as an example (this will be rudimentary because I know nothing about cars – please bear with me). A 7-seater isn’t sporty – it’s not the fastest, or the coolest, or a status symbol to be admired by onlookers. But does it pretend to be? No. Do they try and find a middle ground and say, ‘We’re kind of fast and kind of sporty – look, we added a spoiler’? No. It just is what it is. And instead of trying to be all things to all men, they lean into it. No, we aren’t the fastest, but we are the biggest. No, we aren’t the coolest, but we do have space and flexibility to fit your lifestyle. No, we aren’t going to be gawked at on the street, but we’re ready to take on any terrain.

For many, that is what is important. That’s their who, and they speak right to them.

Find the people that matter and start creating messaging that is meaningful to them and avoid trying to please those who don’t – they aren’t your audience, stay in your lane.

If you’re interested in seeing this in action, and keeping to my 7-seater analogy, I think this one from Lexus demonstrates strong messaging well. Not only is this aimed directly at their target audience, but it also solves a notable problem with 7-seaters – no one wants to sit in the tiny back seats!

At the end of the day, we all know compromise has its place – but don’t make it the default for your brand. Embrace what makes you distinct, connecting with those who resonate with your message. Trying to please everyone will blend you into the background. Be bold, authentic, and unapologetically yourself. It may not please everyone, but it will resonate with those who matter most. In a world saturated with compromise, standing out is the only path to success.

Written by Natasha Agnew.


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