The WayfinderWoman Trust was provided with a ROSA Woman to Woman grant funded through the Tampon Tax to undertake a project that supported women in making their voices heard and to develop their leadership skills. In a series of events women of Eastbourne told us what they wanted to change for them to be employed and thriving. This is their 10 point manifesto.
1. Provide confidence training to tackle the top fears of women when applying for work
2. Provide confidence building support whilst in the workplace to enable women to speak up and achieve their potential
3. Provide appropriate ongoing courses and constructive empathic feedback/appraisals once in the workplace
Why? 66% of women expressed a lack of confidence in themselves and their skills sets, requesting training to tackle that, particularly for those returning to work and around dealing with IT. Comments were expressed such as:
● Fear of going into management and being intimidated by men
● Gap in employment makes it difficult to change roles
● Defying expectations of women’s role – having the drive to do this
● Lack of self-belief – I will only go for roles which I feel I can demonstrate every point on the person specification
● Scared to ask for advice and support
● Not speaking up – not having a voice
4. Everyone involved in the recruitment/promotion process from beginning to end assess their systems and processes to tackle conscious and unconscious gender bias around the recruitment/ promotion process
5. All involved in recruitment critically assess assumptions made about the ease of entry point into their organisation
6. Tailored training be provided to address the particular anxieties women face when applying for and returning to work.
Why? Over 30% found the recruitment process complex, long-winded, technically challenging and disempowering. Comments were expressed such as:
● Too much, red tape when applying a job, multiple forms CV psychometric tests – most job advertised online
● Pigeon holed by previous work experience
● Interview techniques are outdated
● Making your cv stand out
● Skills gained over a lifetime are not always considered
● Older people have O Levels/degrees – no GCSE’s so can’t tick the box on the computer
7. Owners, directors and managers to critically evaluate their company cultures and address any
issues raised to create an environment where women can thrive
8. Managers to have training in leadership and emotional intelligence to improve their ability to
generate an environment where women (and men) can thrive
9. Employers to actively consider agile/flexible working for potential and existing employees
10. Organisations to take into account the unique health challenges faced by women (eg menopause) and provide support and training to those directly affected, and to their colleagues.
Why? Over 30% of women made comments about a negative company culture. 93% of local women have been discriminated against and when this was challenged, it was often used as a route to exit women. A recurring theme was flexibility and that ‘flexibility seems to be a sticky floor from which you
can’t progress’. Additional comments were expressed such as:
● Do employers think you, as a woman, might get pregnant or be off work due to child care?
● Male dominated work environments – off putting
● Salary – part time hours doesn’t mean part time effort and productivity
● Dress sense at interview might stop you getting job- too much make up – short skirt – cleavage on show and dress expectations when in work
● Unsupportive colleagues/manager
● Bullying does happen in the workplace – needs to be a way to complain
● Company expectation of excessive work hours when you’re the carer
and with regards to flexibility:
● Childcare issues need flexible hours – need employee empathy
● Flexible hours if looking after an aged parent
● Childcare – prohibitive cost, limited flexibility
● Poor work / life balance – spinning plates
● Un-flexible working hours – lack of job sharing opportunities
● Sometimes I need time off to deal with school issues with my teenager
Other issues that women expressed concern about were:
1. The general need for ongoing training, particularly for older women
2. A perception and experience of ageism, particularly relevant when older women are returning to the workforce or have changed needs as a result of divorce or death of partner.
3. Stereotyping regarding male/female roles, responsibilities, aptitudes and potential
We, along with other organisations can help with all of these issues. For a more detailed explanation of the responses, information about hidden barriers women face and how you can address these, please get in touch.