In spring of last year, Fiona Hotstron Moore, corporate partner at London accountancy firm Reeves and Huffington Post contributor, was derisively optimistic that the Chancellor would address during his Autumn Statement how more women could become entrepreneurs. She criticized the governmental structure of society for the barriers that prevent educated and motivated working professionals from starting a business. Women especially experience economical limitations because they’re the matriarchs of our society who typically sacrifice a rewarding job to care for the family and manage the home.
Because of gender segregation naturally established by cultural tradition, women can feel forced to choose between taking care of a family at home or working full-time at the office. It can feel like an either-or struggle. But every year that a mother stays absent from the workforce, her future wages lower by an estimated 5 percent, according to UK Feminista.
“Mum-trepreneurship” is a bridge that can eliminate the disconnect between motherhood and a career path — but not without an improvement in state support. What kind of support? Mum-trepreneur advocate Moore explains that free full-time nursery care for pre-school children, loans to back business ideas and a Government website that provides women with financial and marketing solutions can all help women with children run a business.
Familial responsibilities and entrepreneurship aside, UK working women face stark realities. They’re more likely to be unemployed, experience job insecurity and encounter pay inequality compared to other developed countries, according to PwC, an accounting and consultancy network. Female economic empowerment and general equality of earnings seem to be regressing, implies Simon English of The Independent. Since the recession hit, the limited female participation in the workforce and gender pay gap in the UK remains a somber societal mainstay. A halt in workplace gender equality cries out to organizations to take action by promoting females and establishing professional diversity.
In 2013, women looked forward to the Autumn Statement, perhaps just to hear confirmations for their convictions. To put borrow from the words of ToUChstone, TUC’s blog dedicated to newsy policy issues, “women were left behind” in the speech delivered by George Osborne. The Women’s Budget Group reiterated that female unemployment for women (4 percent) has dropped half as fast as for men (9 percent) since 2011.
The Telegraph’s Gloria de Piero, spokesperson for Labour and MP of Ashfield, echoes these same sentiments. “Women are hurting,” says de Piero, “and women’s real incomes have taken a battering.” She explains that women will pay three times more than men in 2014 and 2015 because of “changes to direct tax, tax credits, social security, pay and pensions,” according to a House of Commons Library analysis. A seemingly non-beneficial marriage tax break, along with rising costs of childcare, leave families in struggle.
Brits continue to cry out — women can’t seize economic opportunities that aren’t available. UN Women of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women shares that its Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) offers businesses guidance on how to “empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.” The Think, Act, Report initiative by Government also provides a framework for how companies can address “issues such as recruitment, retention, promotion and pay,” thus improving workplace gender inequality.
Margaret Cole, an executive board member at PwC, believes boards should take responsibility for providing young women with visible and inspirational role models. Moore suggests that women professionals should establish and connect with local professional networking groups to exchange ideas and share experiences with a like-minded community. Businesses can also encourage more female individuals to stand up as mentors and motivate other women who feel trapped or discouraged while job searching or starting their own businesses.
Retired human resources generalist, career consultant, volunteer
The article that 360 Degree created on their blog, “I’m Not A Number I’m A Free Man” is a great read and it is about making workplaces more “human”.