Four in five managers have witnessed gender discrimination in the workplace

As MPs call for a ban on sexist dress codes, research from CMI reveals that four in five managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination in the workplace

Four in five managers have witnessed gender discrimination in the workplace

The UK’s business sector may be one of the most advanced in the world but it seems that it’s still struggling with gender equality. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), the professional body for management and leadership, has just revealed how prevalent the problem of gender bias is in corporate Britain. Fortunately, it also offers a roadmap aimed at solving the issue.

Having surveyed 851 UK managers as a part of its CMI Women campaign, the organisation has revealed that 81% have witnessed some form of gender discrimination in the past 12 months. This ranged from the 50% who had seen gender bias in recruitment and promotion decisions to the 69% who said women struggled to make their views heard in meetings. Of the managers polled, 81% had witnessed inappropriate remarks such as comments with sexual overtones masquerading as banter.

And it seems as if female managers are more aware of the issue. While 42% of the surveyed male managers had witnessed gender bias in terms of recruitment or promotion decisions, that number was 83% for female managers. The discrepancy was slightly smaller when it came to witnessing inappropriate remarks, with 80% of men and 85% of women hearing them at work.

Fortunately, it seems that times may be a-changing, with the research finding that 84% of male managers and 85% of female managers had put up women for promotion. And when it came to mentoring women, those numbers were 69% and 70% respectively. “Of course, there are many things that managers, and particularly men in senior roles, can do,” said Ann Francke, CEO at CMI.

With this in mind, FCMI Women, CMI’s network for promoting female managers, has suggested five ways to beat sexism in corporate Britain. They are: promoting flexible working, balanced recruiting, promoting leadership equality, mentoring and sponsorship and skills and career development initiatives.

Commenting on the research, Caroline Dinenage, minister for women, equalities and early years, said: “Gender discrimination is completely unacceptable – women should never be held back just because of their gender. Shining a light on this issue is absolutely key to achieving equality in the workplace, which is why we are introducing requirements on all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data from April.”

On top of this, two House of Commons committees have called for a review of how anti-sexism legislation is enforced after gathering evidence that many companies still have different dress codes for men and women.

Given that bridging the gender gap could add £150bn to the economy by 2025 according to the McKinsey, the management consulting firm, promoting female and male talent equally really is a no-brainer.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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