Putting the pledge into action
So, I’ve signed the Pledge. Now what?
We get asked a lot what the first steps are in implementing the Pledge. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this (though we wish there was!), so we’ve put together some guidance to help you get started. Keeping up with AXIS via our social media (predominantly LinkedIn) and our monthly email newsletters will provide you with the latest and best thinking on gender balance, so we suggest doing that as a first step. In addition, we’ve put together the starter guide below.
Every organisation is unique and efforts which have worked successfully for others may not be appropriate for your organisation. We therefore ask that our Pledge signatories have taken the time to understand the underlying reasons for the gender imbalance in their own organisations. Analysis is likely to require you to have engaged directly with your staff, for example through focus groups and/or surveys, to understand where they consider barriers and issues lie and also to review your own data. Areas where we would encourage you to look at/track/discuss include:
recruitment (e.g. advert wording and strategy, short-listing practices, interview processes, hiring manager knowledge/training);
retention (particularly around maternity leave and for the 12 months following return, and for women between the ages of 45 and 55);
promotion (are women progressing within your organisation at rates proportionate to their representation and at the same pace – if not why not);
flexible/agile working (is this available to all and, if so, do employees consider there are consequences to them taking this in practice?)
performance reviews (are men and women faring equally in performance ratings - can/should you remove ratings?)
Once you understand the key issues which appear to be impacting on your organisation’s gender balance you will be able to create your organisation’s bespoke strategic plan to address those key issues. Your plan should include ambitious targets to keep focus and enable you and your employees to know what success looks like. You will find some resources which may help you in building your action plan on the AXIS Resources page, including evidence-based guidance from McKinsey and the UK Government Equalities Office.
At AXIS, we are committed to providing Pledge signatories with the latest and best available research and thinking in this area, and suggest you follow us on LinkedIn to be kept up to date.
Transparency is a vital component towards achieving gender balance and has been proven to help reduce gender pay gaps. We do not intend to require our Pledge signatories to adhere to a specific level of transparency but we do encourage organisations to be as transparent as they can in relation to pay, promotion processes and decisions, work opportunities and flexible working in particular. It will also be important for your employees to understand what actions you are taking, why and what progress has been made. We recognise that progress is not linear and that you may have to communicate disheartening figures from time to time but communicating that honestly, timeously and with confirmation of the actions you are taking is our view of best practice.
Gender balance is everyone’s issue! Get your staff involved – let them know you’ve signed the Pledge, and ask them for their suggestions and support, and be inclusive (see this link from Inclusive Employers for some inspiration). Talk about your commitment with your supply chain – encourage them to get involved. Share your commitment on your social media. We want to celebrate your successes too! As we move forward with the Pledge, we will look to compile an annual report showing progress made, and sharing best practise. Don’t be afraid to try something, and let us know if it works or any lessons learned!