“What is good for gender equality is good for the economy and society as well. The COVID-19 pandemic puts that truth into stark relief and raises critically important choices.” (McKinsey July 2020). The McKinsey paper gives some concerning statistics on just how much the pandemic has affected gender equality in particular. So how can female students and graduates today find an organisation that is not just diversity friendly but gender friendly? The good news is that there are employers out there who are making contributions to this agenda and helping to ensure that advancements that have been made in the last 20 years in the UK towards equal opportunity for women are not lost.
Hear from our Careers Ambassador, Emily Philpott, who shares her tips below for finding gender diversity-friendly employers and we conclude with some good advice from our Head of Diversity and Inclusion too, George Brown.
“Even though workplace equality isn’t weathering the COVID-19 storm as well as we might hope (and in particular gender equality), there’s still a lot to be gained from finding an employer that emphasises diversity and inclusion. Working for an organisation whose people come from a range of backgrounds gives you even more opportunities to learn, connect and develop in your graduate role or placement, not to mention provides reassurance that you are being fully supported.
Connect with Alumni
But the question remaining is how to seek out employers who understand the importance and value of diversity and inclusion. A great place to start is by connecting with Alumni who work or have previously worked at the organisation you are interested in, through Bath Connection or LinkedIn. By doing this you’ll be getting an honest, unfiltered picture of an organisation, which no number of careers brochures or websites can give you. Alumni on Bath Connection are keen to share their experiences with jobseekers like you, so make the most of this resource and reach out.
That being said, if first-person insights are not available to you, then doing some tactical, targeted online research can be really valuable. Look on employer websites for their diversity, inclusion or equality pages. The industry you are looking in will often dictate the breadth of information available, but all reputable organisations should have some space dedicated to explanations of how they encourage diversity and inclusion.
Look For Evidence
In the Banking sector, Lloyds is a great example of an organisation whose website contains concrete evidence on its progress and achievements towards gender equality targets. For example, they state that “by the end of 2019 we had increased representation of senior women from 28% to 36%”. That’s the kind of detail you want to look out for because it highlights what they have actually achieved. Similarly, in the Consulting industry, Bain gives examples to support its commitment, such as its Local Womxn at Bain programme which develops local initiatives to help women thrive. Be a little more wary of large organisations who make commitments without evidence to back it up.
Despite being a traditionally male-dominated field, many organisations in the Engineering sector have programmes to aid the recruitment of female students and graduates. Jaguar Land Rover’s Women in Engineering sponsored training scheme provides female undergraduates with a buddy, a £1,500 bursary and student placements within the organisation for the duration of their studies. This extensive support is a great way to encourage more women to take up roles within the field.
Make Direct Contact
The biggest, most competitive players in an industry will tend to have more information and support available than their smaller counterparts, but that’s not to say that companies who don’t have programmes or statistics are not diversity and inclusion friendly. If you’re interested in smaller organisations, it might be worth dropping them an email to enquire about how they support women in the workplace, for example. Many will have a contact email listed on their website and – in my experience – are more likely to reply!
In some industries it can be useful to look to the work of an organisation to see how they support diversity and inclusion beyond recruitment. In the Consumer Goods sector, advertising campaigns can offer an insight into this. For example, Proctor and Gamble’s washing-up liquid brand Fairy temporarily removed the ‘y’ from its bottles to prompt a more equitable division of household chores. Though not directly related to its employment practices, it suggests that the organisation values equity, which is an encouraging sign for women considering applying.
At the end of the day, diversity and inclusion is still a work in progress, so don’t get disheartened if the organisation you’ve been hoping to work for isn’t where you had anticipated. By adopting a positive mindset, you could be a pioneer of change wherever you end up as a graduate or placement student. “ Emily Philpott (MSc International Development with Economics)
If you would like to research some more employers doing great work on the equality agenda check out:
https://www.womenintech.co.uk/employer-awards. See the latest 2020 winners on the Women In Tech Awards
For additional careers information on Gender Equality see also our Careers Service page https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/equality-diversity-and-your-career-gender/
We also run the Sprint Personal Development Programme for female students. These programmes are to encourage and build confidence, employability skills and develop networks to support young female professionals in their careers. The next Sprint programme will be advertised on MyFuture.
There are also many organisations and charities across the globe working to promote gender equality. See https://genderatwork.org/stories-of-change/
A Final Note
A final note from Georgina Brown, Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. University of Bath
“Although much progress has been made, longstanding discrimination, systemic and attitudinal, still dominate workplaces. Research clearly demonstrates that an equal and inclusive world is better for all of us. However, biases often form false narratives and default truths about women within the workplace. This then leaks into policies, processes, and decisions. When looking for a place to work, it is essential to understand how the company is addressing key issues such as the gender pay gap; what initiatives are in place to challenge the default ‘known’ of biases, and, how progressive your line manager is within equality, diversity, and inclusion. Your future line manager is a vital component in how you will experience the company culture, navigate the systems, and be able to do your job.”
A note for graduate employers: We are conscious that we have only been able to mention a few employers in this blog. If you are doing some great work on gender equality, then we would love to hear from you and promote your opportunities to our female students. You can get in touch by contacting recruit:bath.ac.uk