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Policies and procedures 'should be checked for gender friendliness'

02 April 2012

Policies and procedures "should be checked for gender friendliness" Posted by Editorial team

Employers should check their policies and procedures are "gender-friendly" in order to promote equality within their organisation, it has been argued.

Jane Woods, director of women's personal development website changingpeople.co.uk, explained there are steps firms can take to improve the balance of female and male personnel within leadership roles in their business.

Many specialists have claimed ensuring there are enough women at higher levels of the workforce could improve the success of firms, while their have been some suggestions having a better balance could also reduce risk-taking behaviour.

To improve the number of women in powerful positions, employers should "audit all of their policies and procedures and have a look to see whether they're gender-friendly", Ms Woods stated.

"They need to educate both sides of the workforce," the expert added.

Although there has been much debate recently about the role of women in the workplace and the need for more female personnel in positions of influence, a report released by the EU last month showed progress on this front has been slow.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding suggested introducing quotas for businesses to follow could improve gender equality on the board.

It could also be a good idea to introduce flexible working hours so that staff can take care of both responsibilities at home and in their jobs.

While this could help women, Ms Woods stressed that it is less a women's issue and more one of equality, as men can benefit from having less of a strict routine as well.

"I think the idea of the nine-to-five working day evolved primarily based on the principle that there's someone at home doing everything," she said.

"If you don't have someone at home doing everything - whatever gender you are - it doesn't really work," the expert added.

But Ms Woods suggested it is not only the fault of employers that women are less dominant in some businesses than men.

It can also be because female personnel tend to behave in a different way compared with their male colleagues, she explained.

The specialist stated: "In terms of what women could do, I think women sometimes need to invest in themselves and take steps to put themselves [forward]. Women do hold back and undersell themselves. At an interview women will not particularly share what they're good at."

She highlighted research from the Institute of Leadership and Management last year that showed there are four issues that hold female staff back from being promoted.

These are not being ambitious enough, lacking in confidence, not putting themselves forward for new opportunities and having "less than straightforward career paths", Ms Woods reported.

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