International Women’s Day got me thinking about millennial women in business.
It’s no secret that my industry is male dominated, particularly in litigation. The UK has the lowest proportion of female judges in the EU. Some of the best business people I know are women. Here’s looking at you, Mum.
Female role models
I’m lucky to have some great female role models in my life. Colleagues, clients, family and friends. Synonymous with all of them is confidence. They have all inspired and influenced me throughout my career to date, and I hope that I am able to do the same for others in future. It is my experience that there is a lack of female role models at the helm in the business world, and mentors should be sought for guidance and advice. This support network should be considered invaluable, not just to women looking to start their careers, but also moving forward in the professional world. Forging genuine relationships helps massively and referrals can come from the most unlikely of sources.
Unfortunately, women are more likely to be disadvantaged in the workplace. Equal pay statistics have highlighted the gender pay gap and issues surrounding pay parity. This week, it has been revealed that Claire Foy, the actress playing Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix series The Crown was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith. It has not been disclosed what Smith earned per episode but producers have said this disparity will not happen again. This is just the latest in several similar revelations in the entertainment world.
Legalities surround millennial women
Legally, companies must pay women and men equally for doing the same or equivalent work, and provide the same contractual terms. All companies with over 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap. It is anticipated that the results will reveal further examples of pay disparity. The Employment Tribunal could be hit with more claims for equal pay and sex discrimination.
On average, women working full-time earn just over 90% of their male counterparts’ wage. Every year, on 10th November, women are effectively “working for free”. There are numerous reasons for this gap – key being the attitude towards women – and millennial women, in particular – in the workplace. Companies can and should be working to promote gender equality and introduce family-friendly measures, such as flexible working, home working and parental leave.
Employers are well advised to remember the benefits of pregnant women and those on or returning from maternity leave. According to the recent Equality and Human Rights Commission’s statistics, increased staff retention, better morale and the cutting of recruitment costs are all cited as key benefits.
The following from Claire Foy sums it up well. You’re told as a young woman what’s attractive, what’s acceptable, what’s the right or wrong way to be I wish there was a way of saying to girls, you don’t have to be polite and pretty in order to survive and have people love you. The idea that you should be like everybody else genuinely breaks my heart. And I’m going to have to do something about it.
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Jessica Bass is an Associate Solicitor at Curzon Green, specialising in Employment Law and Dispute Resolution.
You can find Jess on LinkedIn here.