As part of Bristol Women’s Voice (BWV) celebrations of International Women’s Day (IWD) on the 2nd of March at City Hall there was a ‘Women in Business’ discussion group titled ‘What Do You Need From Your Employer to Help You Succeed at Work?’ held in the Lord Mayor’s Reception.
The workshop was led by the Women in Business Task Group, who are part of the Bristol Women’s Commission, established when the Mayor signed the European Charter for Equality of women and men in local life in 2013. The group is made up of individuals who represent organisations from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Their goals are to advance gender equality at all levels of business, especially at senior levels where women remain poorly represented, as well as to help bring about change by pioneering new approaches to working that improve business environments.
This discussion workshop gave women a chance to share their experiences from their workplaces and more importantly say what they wanted from their employers to help them feel comfortable and succeed at work. The session covered topics such as female representation in senior in businesses, non-discriminatory recruitment schemes and closing the gender pay.
As part of the workshop, the Women and Business Task Group asked for feedback on the Women in Business Charter they had created around priorities for women in business, and which will be launched on the 26th of March. They invited Bristol businesses who were looking to make progress in this area to sign up to the charter, as they wanted businesses to commitment to trying to achieve the goals set out in the charter for their business.
The workshop was a very informal, drop-in session as the group was keen to get feedback from as many women as possible so they could take their requests to businesses and help ensure that Bristol’s workplaces are great for women and men.
The goals of the charter were as follows:
● The promotion and availability of flexible and part-time working, especially at senior levels that attract higher levels of pay and conditions.
● A commitment to increase the numbers of women at senior levels and on the board.
● Making at least one member of the senior executive team responsible for reporting on gender equality and inclusion.
● Encouraging and supporting female employees in lower paid and lower skilled occupations to progress through the organisation, through training and other ongoing support.
● A commitment to closing the gender pay gap.
● A focus on implementing recruitment, appraisal, personal development and promotion processes that are non-discriminatory towards women and are free from unconscious bias.
● Supporting women where they are under-represented through mentoring and women’s networks.
Jane Ginnever, the chair of the Women in Business Task Group, believes that “women’s rights and needs have not historically been at the forefront of the minds of those making decisions about how society works, and those decision-makers need to start considering everyone’s needs, not only those of people like them.”
When asked what IWD means to her she said,: “International Women’s Day is a day when we take time to celebrate women’s achievements and focus on the issues that affect them, but we should consider every day of the year how we can help women and men to achieve their full potential.”
It was great to experience such an engaging workshop which was also a good way of getting involved in the conversation around Women’s Business in the city, as well as seeing businesses demonstrate their commitment by singing the charter.
If you’re a business, some of the benefits are:
● Being able to use the Bristol Women in Business logo across all of your HR and recruitment materials.
● Publishing the Women in Business Charter on your website.
● Your name and logo listed on the Women in Business website.
● An opportunity to host and speak at future Women in Business events, centred around:
○ Women on boards
○ Flexible working
○ Gender pay gap.
● A case study of your business that will be showcased to other companies.
● Access to the group’s network
The workshop brought many interesting stories and topics to the conversation around women in business. It was amazing to discuss and share how we thought the workplace environment needed to be improved in making sure that is it helping women to achieve their best possible outcomes.