Business leaders call to ‘double down’ on gender equality - Business in the Community

Business leaders call to ‘double down’ on gender equality

Business in the Community (BITC) – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has published new insights on gender equality in the workplace, as demonstrated by The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in their report, ‘Leading the Way’.

Published today, ‘Leading the Way’ analyses the approach taken by organisations employing between them 1.5 million workers. The report shares how applicants to the The Times Top 50 Employers for Women have supported women at work, addressing the issues of furlough, domestic abuse, and pay gap transparency.

Since the pandemic began, more women have been furloughed than men1 and people with caring responsibilities were more severely affected, with mothers more likely to have been furloughed, quit, or lost their jobs than fathers, and had less time to commit to paid work.²

In addition, reports of domestic abuse have skyrocketed. In the first month of lockdown, calls to domestic abuse services in the UK rose by 49%.³ Before the pandemic, less than 5% of employers had a policy in place to address domestic abuse.⁴

 The report’s examples of success include:

  • Thames Water, in partnership with the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA), hosted virtual events to engage organisations to act on domestic abuse, and launched a dedicated domestic abuse portal with access to helplines and information on Hestia’s ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ safe spaces scheme.
  • Tesco introduced paid absence for COVID-19 sickness, isolation, test and trace and holiday quarantine, as well as introducing school closure leave and parental leave to support working parents, in addition to paid absence for employees with caring responsibilities.
  • Forty-nine of Britain’s top 50 employers for women voluntarily reported their 2019/2020 gender pay gap data following the government’s decision to lift the legal requirement to do so. 

Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community, added: “Companies need to double down on their efforts to attain gender equality, as this issue is not going away. Employers have a legal responsibility to provide safe work environments and a duty of care to employees, so fresh commitment to addressing domestic abuse is welcome. More than 2 million people a year will experience domestic abuse each year, meaning rare is the business where there isn’t someone at risk.5

These companies have proven what firms can achieve when they make equality a focus for their organisation. These employers haven’t forgotten about women at work and are committed to making gender inequality a thing of the past.”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive at Business in the Community, said: “We look forward to the day when commitment to gender equality is the norm, not the exception. Until then, I hope more employers take note of these companies’ ambition on gender equality.”


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¹ HM Revenue & Customs (2021), Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics: February 2021

² Andrew, A. et. al (2020) ‘How are mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?’ Institute of Fiscal Studies.

³ Sherif, D. (2020) ‘Covid-19 And The Surge In Domestic Abuse In The UK’, Centre for Women’s Justice.

⁴ Pillinger, J. (2019) ‘Toolkit on domestic violence and abuse at work: Recognise, respond and refer’, The Vodafone Foundation.

5Stripe, N. (2020) Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2020, Office for National Statistics.

About Business in the Community and the Times Top 50 Employers for Women 

Business in the community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.  

We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:    

• Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow;  

• Build thriving communities where people want to live and work;  

• Innovate to sustain and repair our planet.  

Each year, Business in The Community invites companies with a presence in the UK to apply for The Times Top 50 Employers for Women by detailing what they are doing to work towards gender equality in their organisation. The list is selected by gender equality experts at Business in the Community through a competitive and robust application process. The list is published by The Times. It is unranked and in alphabetical order.