CWS 3.0: March 5, 2014

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Gender Gap: Are businesses missing out?

In the run-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, companies are turning their attention to the topic of women in the workplace. According to data from the International Labor Organization, the gender gap in global labor markets showed some convergence in the earlier part of the last decade but increased after the global financial crisis.

A study published last week by Britain’s Trade Union Congress revealed that increases in the number of unpaid hours worked in the public sector was driven primarily by women. In 2003, a smaller proportion of women (24.3 percent) in the public sector worked unpaid overtime than men (25.8 percent). Women have now overtaken men with an increase of 3.9 percentage points in the number of workers doing unpaid overtime to 28.2 percent. In comparison, men doing unpaid overtime has barely changed in the last decade (up 0.1 percentage point to 25.9 percent).

In Spain, a recent survey by global recruitment giant Adecco found that female participation in the workplace fell by 10.6 percent between 2008 and 2013. This equates to a loss of 902,800 jobs for women in five years.

New research published this week by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the U.K.’s recruitment industry, has called for executive search firms to publish data on the proportion of women on the long and shortlists that they present to employers for senior positions.

“The U.K. has an abysmally low ratio of women to men in board rooms and executive teams despite the fact that balanced boards better represent customers and stakeholders, make better decisions and have been proved to deliver better financial results,” said Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC.

“Executive search firms play a vital role helping employers to take a much broader view of what the best candidate for a top job might look like. The best headhunters know it’s their responsibility to challenge employers, probe old assumptions, and unconscious biases that can mean some businesses are missing out on top female talent,” Green concluded.

Data from a February 2011 ‘Women on Boards’ report showed that companies with more women on their board showed a 66 percent higher return on invested capital, a 53 percent higher return on equity and a 42 percent higher return on sales. 

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