This article is part of the From ‘Retain’ to ‘Recognise’: How to Close the Gender Pay Gap series which shares the key insights from the last 3 years’ Women’s Sat Nav to Success Research Surveys to provide clarity on what matters most and can make the most difference in closing your gender pay gap.
Here we deliver a wake-up call to those who interpret the fact that women are more vocal and visible as ‘proof’ that all is sorted in terms of equality of opportunity for women, and therefore that if women want promotion they will just ask for it and the wheels of the meritocracy will roll smoothly forward ensuring that the right person gets the right job at the right time.
It also for those in Diversity and Inclusion who are bracing themselves for the prospect of bad news when their organisation’s gender pay gap figures are published in April. This supports their case that it really isn’t ‘all fine here’ and the problems aren’t just ‘in other organisations’ and therefore their strategies and plans need proper funding and strategic support from the top.
Vocal and visible does not equal valued
Here’s why people may be forgiven for believing that it must be OK in their organisation.
There is a negligible gender gap in being vocal and visible:
- Speaking up [emailing, presenting, recommending, etc]: 69% of women vs 72% of men are consistently speaking up whenever they could or should,
- External confidence: over 3 years a consistent 8 in 10 women report coming across as convincingly confident ‘always’ or ‘mostly’, while closer to 7 in 10 men report this strength of projection,
- Networking: just under 1 in 4 women ‘always / frequently’ vs just over 1 in 4 men,
- Social capital building activities: approximately 6 in 10 women and 7 in 10 men regularly participate in these bond-building activities.
However, the gender gap in being heard and valued is widening and damaging women’s progression possibilities.
- Contributions being valued: in 2019 only 47% of women reported having their contributions consistently valued. The trend over 3 years shows a 15% decline in those reporting being consistently valued. In comparison, for men there was no gap in the numbers speaking up and the proportion having their contributions valued,
- Belief in capability: in contrast to women’s external presentation of confidence, less than half of women reported feeling ‘genuinely’ / ‘strongly’ certain of their capability. The proportion of women reporting these top levels of internal belief in their capability has also declined by 15% over the last three years,
- Engaging with stakeholders of career success: in 2019, less than 1 in 5 women reported regularly engaging with key individuals and making them aware of their work and its significance. A decline of 34% over the last three years.
The picture is clear when we take the time to dig beneath the surface.
Women want to lean in – for the implicit rewards – and know they need to lean in for the explicit rewards, and they are doing so. They are speaking up whenever they can and should, and making themselves visible in the classic networking and social capital building occasions. However, they – and the organisation – are suffering the consequences of their contributions being valued less. For individual women, this evidence of being valued less directly undermines their belief in their capability and therefore the extent to which they directly promote the impact of their work to the people who need to recognise their role and importance to ensure they are offered the right opportunities at the right time.
The data reported to the Government on organisations’ gender pay gaps over the last 2 years is clear evidence that most organisations are failing to equally recognise the value and potential of their female employees.
Assuming that hearing and seeing women is the same as valuing their work has serious consequences for the application and engagement of talent, and therefore for organisational outcomes. We will see the measurement of one of those outcome consequences in April, and we will be able to see the three-year trend, which will make it clear if last year’s excuses of a one-year blip due to exceptional circumstances holds true – if diversity and inclusion teams will need to hold this data up and make the case for new strategies which can effectively address deeper causal issues.
In a hurry for the answers? You can contact me direct if you would like to discuss the route map to deliver this change or if you’d like to explore any of the concepts discussed here.
Here are the next instalments of the From ‘Retain’ to ‘Recognise’: How to Close the Gender Pay Gap series being published here and on LinkedIn:
- Focusing resources where it matters: the most pivotal impact points undermining the progression of female talent.
- Spotlight on the Part-Time Penalty that could be transformed into competitive advantage.
- Leveraging the positives: the hidden strategies that already make the difference.
- Bringing it all together: The roadmap for success.
The 2020 Sat Nav to Success Survey opens on February 14th – the day women start getting paid, when you annualise the gender pay gap. You can participate at https://womenssatnav.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/2020. The survey closes on April 30th.
Contact me for more details of how to get involved personally or on behalf of your organisation (email@example.com)