3 lessons from The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2020

Post author image. Emily Rona-Roper
image of Emily Rona-Roper

Business in the Community has published the 2020 Times Top 50 Employers for Women, the UK’s most highly profiled and well-established listing of employers leading the way on workplace gender equality. Inclusion Campaign Manager Emily Rona-Roper outlines findings from this year’s cycle and makes recommendations to employers on overcoming common challenges faced.  

Ten years on, inclusion in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women list continues to be highly desirable. Every October, the most progressive of British businesses submit themselves to a four-month review process where every element of their gender equality strategy is explored, assessed and measured. The results never fail to inspire us, showing the tangible change that can be achieved by embedding gender equality into core business strategy and processes. 

However, despite such innovations, equality in the workplace is yet to be the reality for many women – especially those with multiple intersectional identities. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to stall, and even reverse, progress on gender equality at work, what are the lessons that employers can take from this year’s Times Top 50 cycle to safeguard their efforts in the future?

“Despite employers doing a lot to address gender inequality within their organisations, there is generally a lack of evidence of meaningful impact on whether the approach of an organisation is working.”

1. Your efforts are unprecedented – keep going

This year saw an increase in overall scores from all applicants, with specific issue area scores on policies and initiatives, external engagement and inappropriate behaviour skyrocketing from previous years. It is so encouraging to see employers make concentrated efforts to listen to, support and represent women across different intersectional identities, and to challenge gender stereotypes in wider society through intensified efforts to engage clients, customers, suppliers and communities. Additional training to support line managers in confronting bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace is a welcome addition to existing policies and reporting mechanisms. This goes a long way to help creating an inclusive workplace culture where all employees can thrive.

2. But don’t forget the fundamentals

Pay and reward, and transparency and pay gap reporting continue to be the lowest scoring questions across applications to The Times Top 50. Conduct regular equal pay and gender pay audits to ensure fairness in your pay and reward processes, and assess such systems for bias and a lack of transparency. Publish your 2019-20 gender pay gap (if not already done so) and use as much information as possible to contextualise this gap (such as gender pay gap figures by ethnicity or the pay gap between partners) Add an action plan to your narrative that includes SMART, time-bound targets to address your gender pay gap.

3. Always measure impact

Six of the questions in The Times Top 50 application process mark for evidence of both action and impact. In analysing these areas, scores that measure impact are lower across the board. Despite employers doing a lot to address gender inequality within their organisations, there is generally a lack of evidence of meaningful impact on whether the approach of an organisation is working. The areas where this impacted overall score the most was for family friendly policies and pay and reward. Ensure mechanisms to measure impact are built in to any new initiative or policy, and evaluate your existing processes to address whether you are capturing the impact of your efforts.  

The Times Top 50 Employers for Women Insights Report is due to be published in August.