Blog by Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director Opportunity Now
Today the Women’s Business Council launches its report, calling on government and business to take action.
The Women’s Business Council (WBC) is an independent one year working group chaired by Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO of MITIE, set up to advise Government on how women’s contribution to growth can be optimised.
The report calls for action by government and business in four areas:
- Starting out: Supporting the choices of girls and young women
- Getting on: Supporting women in the middle phase of their working lives
- Staying on: Supporting women’s continuing development and contribution in the third phase of their working lives
- Enterprise: Helping women gain the necessary skills and access to finance to set up and run their own business
By differentiating the various stages of a woman’s career, the report will be a useful tool for business leaders and HR practitioners when it comes to ensuring women’s full participation in the workforce.
This clarity of purpose, supporting employers to consider women in their full diversity at different stages in their working lives, will be key in focussing the minds of those of us already engaging in finding solutions for women at work, and spurring on more employers to take this seriously.
The report sets out a series of recommendations on how we can (and should) make the most of women’s contribution to economic growth throughout their careers. This untapped potential includes 2.4 million women who are not working and want to work and a further 1.3 million women who want increase their hours. The report also highlights that equalising participation rates of men and women in the labour market could increase economic growth in the UK by 0.5 percent a year, with potential gains of 10% of GDP by 2030.
The report also highlights the need to get more women into enterprise. If women were setting up and running new businesses at the same rate as men, there could be one million more women entrepreneurs.
The key recommendations for Government and business are:
- that there is an overwhelming business case, supported by strong evidence, for maximising women’s contribution to growth;
- that we need to broaden girls’ aspirations and career choices before the start of their working lives by creating meaningfulpartnerships between schools, businesses and parents;
- business needs to embrace the benefits of agile working and understand how best to support working parents in the second stage of their career;
- women in the third phase of working life hold great untapped potential;
- there is a strong case for providing more support for women who want to setup their own businesses.
The report contains some real innovation, including ideas such as work experience for mothers taking career breaks, and bringing men further into the debate.
Opportunity Now is working with the Women’s Business Council, government, and employers to support the adoption of the recommendations included in the report in order to achieve an equalised workplace for men and women.
*Download the Opportunity Now briefing paper:
Women's Business Council - Recommendations for Employers
*Read the Opportunity Now press release