New Research Reveals Gender Equality Issues

James SherwinManaging Partner, Sherwin O'Riordan solicitors

The issue of gender equality in the workplace is never far away from the spotlight, with reports of pay gaps, sexual harassment and discrimination frequently appearing in the media. 

Even within the Government, equality continues to be an issue. New research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has highlighted that just under two-thirds of employees in the Civil Service are women, but only 21% of employees at the level of Secretary General are female and 33% of those at Assistant Secretary level.

The research has also identified a number of key obstacles potentially deterring women from applying for more senior positions, including:

  • limited availability of flexible working arrangements,
  • high work pressure, and
  • a long-hours culture.

In 2014 the Civil Service made a commitment to improve gender equality, and the ESRI has made a number of recommendations that would help to achieve this goal, including greater access to flexible working at senior levels, and ongoing monitoring of gender differences.

“We need to ensure that women who wish to progress to the most senior roles in the Civil Service are fully supported and in this regard a range of initiatives are currently being implemented under the Civil Service Renewal Plan,” commented Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. “These include the target of 50/50 gender balance in appointments at senior levels, Leadership Programmes including strong representation from women, unconscious bias training, and coaching and mentoring.”

Message for Employers

To reduce the possibility of discrimination claims employers should ensure that all policies and procedures, including those relating to recruitment, promotion, pay and training, are up-to-date and free for bias. If any issues do arise then expert legal advice should be sought as quickly as possible.

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