Week 4: Employers’ diversity policies

Do some research on specific employers’ diversity policies. If possible include employers that you might be interested in working for. You may be able to do this by looking at employers’ websites. Here are some examples to get you started, but you can also look for other companies if you want.

Ford
Pfizer
AstraZeneca
Schlumberger
IBM
Microsoft
Siemens

Do these companies have diversity policies? Do they say anything about structures to encourage flexible working practices; work–life balance issues; challenging stereotypes; continuing professional development; training in diversity; staff satisfaction surveys; and childcare policies and schemes?

Later.  Much later.  This is not a priority – and I’m short on sleep and free time!

 

Read Section 4 from the EC report, A vision for 2010: opportunities and approaches, pages 28–30.

 

The report reads very like the Mission Statement Generator at Dilbert.

“One approach to changing organisations and their cultures to increase the representation and participation of women is to apply the EU-backed approach of ‘gender mainstreaming’,  … to industrial research. But what is gender mainstreaming? It is‘integrating gender equality into all organisations and their cultures, into policies, programmes and projects, into ways of “seeing and doing”’ (Rees, 1998). Instead of targeting the ‘special needs’ of the ‘disadvantaged group’, it focuses on practices and policies that give rise to that disadvantage in the firstplace. “

Right, OK.  So what you’re basically saying is that you need to look at your employees as people, rather than as male employees, female employees, pink/blue/purple employees….  Fairly obvious, I would have thought.  Everyone has a life outside of work (or at least I would hope so) and any employer who ignores that fact is unlikely to have a happy or loyal workforce.

The paper appears to take an unusual view of where the responsibility for career development lies:

“Companies in industrial research need to take active responsibility for building the careers of their employees, …”

Which is of course the opposite of the whole idea of continuous personal development which has been touted throughout this course: the employee takes responsibility for building their own career, on the assumption that no employer will do so.

Good practice in this area includes focusing on prejudice in promotion, retention, returning and recruitment, and putting systems in place to counteract any unintentional bias.

In terms of promotion, action could include:

  • monitoring succession plans to check for the inclusion of under-represented groups in promotion to top positions and setting aspirationaltargets for their increase.
  • analysing current career paths and success criteria used in promotions. Identifying blockages that hinder women’s progress.
  • ensuring that development plans include experience of other parts of theorganisation – different functions or different geographic locations – aswell as relevant off-the-job activities (possibly even include managing a home!).
  • ensuring that women receive support from internal networks (e.g. female managers, professional organisations, a helpline, etc)
  • offering opportunities for ‘work shadowing’ (spending a day or week following and observing a board member doing their daily work) in the boardroom or in top management teams.

In terms of avoiding prejudice in recruitment, retention and return:

  • planning ‘returner’ and ‘keeping in touch’ schemes, as well as confidence building for those who are or have been out of the company for a while.
  • taking into account the fact that ‘dual careers’ may mean men and women require jobs for their partners in the company or the vicinity.
  • providing childcare or subsidising childcare costs (if there is insufficient affordable, good quality, public childcare available),
  • offering careers breaks, flexibility and part-time working, for men and women.
  • offering exchanges with researchers in the public sector, in keeping with other EU policies on mobility.

Umm: in your dreams!  The other papers we have been given to read have emphasised that the only way a company is going to provide ‘family friendly’ conditions is if they can see a benefit to their own, short-term, bottom line.  Women needing flexible working conditions have spoken of the difficulties in arranging even part-time work, or a planned career break – never mind company-provided childcare and jobs-for-partners!

According to this paper, there are a number of characteristics of women-friendly employers:

  • they have examples of ‘real’ role models (not superwomen).
  • they send women to represent the company at external events (conferences/analysts meetings/launch events, etc).
  • they organise mentoring and networking schemes, to ensure that there are sufficient women around to avoid a feeling of isolation.
  • they encourage girls into science by participating in ‘take your daughters to work’ days and ‘girls and science days’.
  • they send women scientists to schools and universities to deliver the message about the excitement of science in industry in schools liaison programmes.
  • they organise properly managed summer student (internship) schemes, a valuable way of enticing students of high potential to join the company and generating good PR.
  • they use internships to award fellowships and scholarships, hence developing relationships with high-potential female candidates.

Well, I suppose it’s something to be aware of – I certainly wouldn’t expect to find it in a small or medium-sized business!

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