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Less “Inspiring Inclusion”, More Investing in Women

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​According to the World Economic Forum, the world has 152 years to wait for gender equality, while it will take us 286 years to achieve gender parity. So, at this rate none of us will live to see the day!

This year, when googling IWD – I was left seriously confused. One International Women’s Day, two themes – one “Inspiring Inclusion” from, and one from the UN, “Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress”. It’s clear to see which one delivers greater purpose and meaning.

As the MD of one of the UK’s leading talent agencies, I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to positively impact our people, communities, and the industries we work within; and over the years, we’ve consistently championed gender equality, and inclusion in all forms, for that matter. As a business that is 75% female, and with more than half of our senior leadership team identifying as women, I am passionate about empowering women to thrive, and ensure they are remunerated their worth.

Since the time of man (enjoy the irony!), women in the workplace have been subject to sexism, harassment, overlooked for promotions and to top it off are often paid less than their male counterparts. This enduring gender disparity not only undermines the potential of women but also deprives organisations of excellent resources, diverse perspectives, and unique talents.

Enough is enough!

Over the last few years, the Gender Pay Gap Bot has called out organisations that have put out IWD performative posts and shared their pay gaps. Astoundingly, only 16% of UK companies disclosed all pay packages for their workforces last year; despite clear evidence that by doing so enables better employee engagement, retention rates and innovation (as highlighted in our Future of Work report).

Yesterday we announced some of the preliminary findings from our 2024 Salary Census – highlighting salary and day rates increases across all of the Creative Industries; and today feels like the opportune moment to share where the current gender pay gap stands.

From 3500+ responses, our data shows that 61% of the industry is female, and encouragingly, in the last 12 months, the gender pay gap has narrowed from 15.1% to 9.6%. This represents quite a significant shift in pay equity – albeit there is still a huge gulf to bridge.

I think in part this is because businesses have found it difficult to attract quality people in a tight economy so have been more savvy with retaining their staff - It's much cheaper for employers to increase salaries by 9% as seen this year for women, than to pay up to 60-75% in replacing them entirely. I also think that because of the climate we’ve found ourselves in: higher living expenses, increased childcare cost and a myriad of other things to contend with women have been forced to hustle much harder for their true worth!

However, as highlighted there still a couple of lifetimes to go for pay parity – and we’re continuing to challenge the status quo through campaigns such as Earn Your Worth, where we do not ask candidates to divulge their salary history in a bit to cut pay gaps. There is clear evidence which indicates that when making this simple, low-cost change to the hiring process, it can positively impact pay inequality.

So, this International Women’s Day, let’s do away with performative inclusion – and let’s focus on investing in women – paying them their true worth, championing them, supporting their needs and encouraging growth. Who knows, if we all come together, then we might even see parity in our lifetime!