As a woman in leadership and a mother of one, I strongly believe that flexibility and shared parental care is the way to support women in work, which in turn will improve the gender pay gap.
So I was delighted to chair a Reducing the Gender Pay Gap event yesterday, where MP Maria Miller of the Women And Equalities Committee delivered key findings from today's report.
Her recommendations include; jobs should be made flexible from the outset, fathers should get three months' well paid, non-transferable leave to encourage equal share of childcare, the government should set up a 'national pathways to work' scheme to get women back into employment after time out and industrial action for low-paid women's jobs.
I believe that if we want to address the gender pay gap and help women work up to leadership roles, we need supportive office environments that embrace flexibility and shared parental leave.
PR is a female-dominated industry, yet when you reach middle-management level you see a sharp decline - new data from the CIPR last week showed that there were around 60% of female employees at this level, which declines to 48% at MD / CEO / Partner level.
The reasons for this are similar to other industries - it's just too hard for working mothers as employers are not offering flexible working or supporting them. We have invested so much in training and developing these employers that it's in our interest to offer them the flexibility they need.
After all, if we can't keep them, then we can't develop them into senior leaders to inspire the next generation, to bring about more change and to keep our business competitive. As MP Maria Miller outlined yesterday, addressing the gender pay gap is not just about equality or doing the right thing, it's about keeping our business competitive and profitable.
Interestingly, employers who don't address the gender pay gap will also stop being attractive to the millennial generation. Millennials expect employers to be flexible, supportive and treat them as individuals - it influences the companies they choose to work for and stay with. Although only 18% of our team are currently parents, 98% of them said they would take advantage of shared parental leave when the time came to have a family.
At Golin, I am very passionate about promoting shared parental leave. I believe this is the key to successful return to work without the emotional and logistical challenges of settling your child in childcare at the same time as returning to work. In fact, we will be offering enhanced paternity leave of 6 weeks, fully paid starting this April.
We also proactively offer and support flexible working - initially for parents and now for everyone across the business.
It's encouraging to hear that we are already tackling the report's recommendations of flexible working and shared parental care. We also recently took part in Back2Businesship, a women returners' programme, and took on our first returnship candidate who has now converted to a permanent member of staff.
Like most businesses, we depend on recruiting and retaining the best possible people in our industry to stay competitive and be profitable. By removing the barriers women face in the workplace we can improve the gender pay gap, boost our talent pool and drive our business.