19 for ’19

International Women’s Day 2019

“The world will never realise 100% of its goals if 50% of its people cannot realise their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.”

Ban Ki Moon

Former UN Director-General


The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, it‘s the opportunity to celebrate achievements and also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To mark the day, we’ve taken a look at how far the move to gender balance in the workplace has come and what actions we can all take to make a difference – and come up with our 19 for ’19…


19 facts

  1. 81% of managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination or bias in their workplace in the past 12 months.
  2. Bridging the gender gap in the UK by 2025 would add as much as £150bn to the economy.
  3. The UK economy will need two million new managers by 2024 – and 1.5 million will need to be women to achieve gender balance.
  4. Only around half of all employees think that their company sees gender diversity as a priority and is doing what it takes to make progress.
  5. Just 27% of employees say that managers regularly challenge biased language and behaviour when they observe it.
  6. Organisations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets and 8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
  7. Only 26% of women feel that they have directly benefited from their company’s gender diversity programme.
  8. In 2018 in the UK, nearly two-thirds of board appointees within the FTSE100 were men, and the number of female chief executives had also fallen from 15 to 12.
  9. The U.K. economy could get a $178 billion boost by raising female employment to match levels seen in Sweden.
  10. Most VC investments are made into all male founders teams, 83% of UK VC deals involved founder teams with no women on them.
  11. Only 27% of managers say their organisation measures the impact of gender diversity practices.
  12. Two thirds of people consider diversity important when deciding where to work.
  13. 76% of people, both men and women, are gender biased.
  14. 58% of managers say attracting and retaining talent is a key driver for improving gender balance.
  15. 60% of men say they have not witnessed any gender discrimination, versus less than half of women.
  16. Female UK employees tend to cite obstacles related to retention (39%) and advancement (34%) in their roles as the most important to tackle.
  17. Two thirds of those surveyed believe that women won’t achieve equality in their country unless men take actions to support women’s rights too.
  18. In 2019, four in 10 UK companies that have published their latest gender pay gap report wider gaps than they did the previous year.
  19. Companies are increasingly recognising the business case for a diverse workforce, with 60% saying it helps attract and retain staff, while half said it increased skills in the workforce.


19 tips

  1. Start with recruitment, what first impression does your company give – your brand, images, website?
  2. Remove names from the recruitment screening process and select candidates for interviews based only on education, experience and other requirements.
  3. Is the language you use creating barriers? Check out textio.com website to help with checking your language.
  4. Take an honest look at company culture, most organisations will need to transform their cultures in the long term to become fully inclusive.
  5. Get commitment and buy-in all the way through the company, including the board and middle managers – it’s not just an HR issue.
  6. Instead of trying to shove women into the roles that men have been doing for decades, we should be more interested in hiring savvy women to develop new roles and benchmarks for how success is created.
  7. Make it a business issue and management priority – align it to your business plan, set targets, measure progress and report on impact, in a meaningful way.
  8. Create a cross-functional team to study the current culture and present to execs what other companies — competitors and non-competitors alike — are doing to promote female equality and the positive effects on culture, retention and bottom line.
  9. Involve everyone. Men are important as change agents and role models, and need to be part of the change. Promote both male and female gender diversity ambassadors at all levels.
  10. Learn from others – use role models, mentoring, and share good practice and lessons with external organisations, be open to learning from others.
  11. Give employees a safe space where they feel they can give honest feedback and explore potentially uncomfortable issues, such as unconscious bias, perceptions and barriers.
  12. Have flexible working policies that really work – for all employees.
  13. Paying employees fairly and equally based on experience level, not on gender, is truly the first step needed to properly promote gender equality.
  14. Ask questions respectfully if you don’t understand the issue, and learn from the answers.
  15. Change company culture to reward outcomes achieved not hours worked.
  16. Even with the best of intentions, unconscious bias is a reality – being aware of this and acknowledging it is the best step to being more open, objective and honest in the workplace.
  17. Watch meeting dynamics: do male voices dominate? How often do female team members take the floor? Solicit opinions from less outspoken employees and make sure the definitive voice isn’t just the loudest one.
  18. Re-evaluate team activities. Are your team-building activities fun for everyone, or do they skew towards “bro-friendly” activities? Are office events convenient for working parents? Take into account women have different safety considerations when they travel late at night.
  19. Keep a learning mindset and be open to trying different things. Feedback may be uncomfortable but consider it a valuable opportunity to learn and improve.



Women in the Workplace 2018

CMI Women

A Blueprint for Balance

PWC Women in Work 2019

Forbes Leadership