Gender-related failure costing UK economy billions

Gender-related failure costing UK economy billions

Engagement with women who work in care, cleaning, and catering industries could benefit everyone. This is according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

UKCES estimate that the UK economy is losing between £15billion and £23billion because of gender-related failure. Finding a remedy to this could add 1.3 to two per cent to national GDP year on year.

Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary at Unite the Union, and a Commissioner at UKCES, said: “Work by UKCES and others shows how improving productivity is essential if we are to maintain business competitiveness, increase wages and raise living standards. We can only do that by valuing and investing in our whole workforce. It makes no sense to allow large parts of it to go undervalued and underutilised.”

77.5% of part-time employees are female. Carol Stanfield, Assistant Director of Research and Technical at UKCES, says more and more women are having to combine work and family life: “As increasing numbers of women have entered the workforce (an increase of 14% between 1971 and 2010 – Women in the Labour Market, Office for National Statistics, 2013) more and more women have to combine work and family life. Part time working is therefore valued by women as a means to do this.”

In 2014 the average full time hourly pay for women was £12.31. The average part-time hourly pay for women is £7.95.

Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, Stanfield suggests that engaging with employees can go some way to guiding employees onto this path: “There are many things that are needed to release women's potential including changing the model of work so that it recognises female attributes. In the sectors we hope to work with (cleaning, commercial catering and adult social care) there is much that can be done to value workers more and release their talent and potential. This includes provision of training but it also extends to empowering workers by including their voices in decision-making processes and recognising the benefits, for both employers and employees, of flexible working and improving staff wellbeing. Engaging employees in how work can be better organised can release the potential of the female workforce and reap benefits for business too.”

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