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24 Mar 2023
by Debi O'Donovan

REBA Inside Track: Why creating workplace equity can fill in talent and skills gaps

Life isn’t a level playing field, nor is the workplace. Employers acknowledging this and acting to create better equity between employees will draw in the wider range of talent and skills needed in today’s fast-changing world.

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In March, REBA published its Gender-Specific Benefits Research 2023, in association with Peppy, to discover how employers are using employee benefits to enhance workplace equity between genders. 

Re-examine conditions for workplace equity 

While many factors play into the disadvantages that women experience throughout their careers, biological reproductive health is one of them. Only biological females can get pregnant and bear children, menstruate and experience menopause (even if they identify as a man). They are the biological sex more likely to take time away from work for reasons linked to reproductive health. 

Workplace career development and pay progression do not traditionally make allowances for people taking time off for childcare, parenthood, miscarriage and painful periods. People experiencing these can find it harder to maintain their career tracks and are left to fall behind. 

For those who choose to — or have to — work (full/part/flexi-time), there must be cleverer ways to avoid this talent stunting and loss that impacts one sex more than the other.

Lack of workplace equity risks business

The insight data in this report shows the stark link between female-specific wellbeing conditions and the wealth gap in our workplaces and societies. REBA’s research also clearly demonstrated a high-level workforce impact of inequity and lack of gender-specific support on organisations. 

Nearly two-thirds of employer respondents said that the inability to attract and retain enough women into their workforces is a future risk to their businesses. Nearly 9 in 10 have an HR objective to increase the number of women in leadership roles (compared with just 3% saying they face a challenge getting men into leadership). 

How workplace equity benefits everyone

While more than 8 in 10 aim to improve the career prospects of women, just a quarter say the same for men. With drives to create equity between groups (such as changes to policies and conditions), revised strategies can benefit all. 

Enhancing parental leave and related pay, closing pay gaps, giving time off to carers and so on do not discriminate between men and women, but do begin to tackle deeply embedded inequities at work that affect us all.

This article was first published online and within the Guardian in the Employee Wellbeing campaign, in partnership with Mediaplanet UK.