In the wake of last month’s gender pay gap revelations, the clamour for true gender balance and greater diversity in the workplace has become louder than ever before.
Off the back of these clarion calls, the insurance company GoCompare has announced that it is going to be introducing blind CVs in a bid to attract more female staff and improve their gender pay gap stats.
Resumes will be stripped of info irrelevant to the job in question, like date of birth, name, or which posh school you went to.
The idea is that anonymous CVs could be a secret weapon not just to get more women into the workplace, but to improve diversity full stop as it helps combat unconscious bias towards ethnic minorities and older workers, as well as gender.
Some are claiming it’s a bold move and it’s certainly a good start - but I don’t think it goes nearly far enough.
I believe British businesses need to rip up the rule book entirely - not just for hiring, but to completely reinvent workplace culture if we’re to improve gender balance, diversity and get the best candidates for the job.
After all, it’s all very well getting people through the door - but how do you encourage them to stay?
In the UK, the only recent major new innovation in workplace culture, was the introduction of shared parental leave in 2015. It’s great in theory, but in practice, hardly any new parents in the UK are taking advantage of it, as they often can’t afford it and there’s still so much bias in society against it.
With maternity, paternity or shared parental leave, you only get 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then the standard rate of £136.78 for the following 33 weeks.
But in Sweden, new parents are paid between 85% and 100% of their income for three months - so 85-90% of fathers sign up for paternity leave.
Cultural attitudes need to shift too - men still feel it’s taboo to take full advantage of paternity or shared parental leave, and there’s bias towards working new mothers too.
When I recently returned from my second maternity leave, so many people said: “Oh! You seem completely fine about coming back and as though you have never been gone!” Yes, it’s an adjustment coming back but I haven’t had my leg chopped off, I’ve just being having a baby! I enjoy my work so why wouldn’t I be fine coming back?
Some would say I am lucky, as our business is structured to bring out the best in people in the workplace so it wasn’t a hard adjustment. But actually, why am I lucky? Why shouldn’t it be the same for all parents returning to work after having a baby? I have a friend who knew her company would view her as ‘not as dedicated’ by having a baby, because of the entrenched biases we have about working mums, so not only did she go back to work after just eight weeks maternity, she worked from home in the weeks before. Surprisingly she’s no longer within that business but is doing great things within another organisation.
And in addition to the bias against working mums, some have to go back early because of financial necessity - where’s the real help to pay for childcare too? Why aren’t there more workplace creches?
In fact, why isn’t job sharing commonplace? This would benefit not just working parents with kids, but older workers and disabled people, who might not want, need or be able to work five days a week.
I believe the most important aspect is flexible working, which benefits everyone.
It’s not just to allow mums and dads pick up kids from school or be there for them at home during half term and school holidays - it’s what millennials and the Gen Zers want too.
On top of that, we’re increasingly having portfolio careers as technology, cultures and social behaviour changes as we charge further into the 21st Century. We might do one thing for two days a week, and something totally different for three.
Why are businesses still following a nine-to-five, five days a week model forged in 19th Century factories? The world has changed - yet the world of work is still playing catch up.
So why are still we being chained full-time to our offices in our hyperconnected age? Why are employers expecting the worst in us, rather than see the best of what we can offer?
If you give people greater autonomy and flexibility, they’ll repay you with loyalty and hard work.
It’s been proven that agile working can actually improve productivity and reduce costs, so it’s a real no-brainer to let workers dictate where and when we want to work.
What’s the point in looking at a load of anonymous CVs to get the most talented array of diverse, gender-balanced candidates, then when you get hired, there isn’t a work culture that supports that gender balance and diversity?
A massive culture shift in the workplace needs to happen as the balance of power is tilting. Companies need to start putting people first, then the profits will follow.
Never mind anonymous CVs - it’s more autonomy and flexibility for workers that’s needed in the British workplace to drive real change, attract the best talent and truly improve gender balance and diversity