International women’s day (IWD) on 8th March is a day for recognising and celebrating the achievements of women around the world. It is also a day to raise awareness for women’s equality and push for gender parity.
The suffragette movement headed by Emmeline Pankhurst paved the way for equality affording women the right to vote but there is still a long way to go to create a world where gender equality is the norm.
IWD is about calling for positive change, as there is still a disparity that is often highlighted through the publications of the gender pay gap. The publication of pay gap data became a legal requirement for organisations with 250 or more employees.
The publications of this data are used as a powerful tool to highlight the discrepancies of pay between men and women in the same job roles that still exist in today’s society.
CIPD Manchester Branch Chair and career coach Samantha Lubanzu shares her experience of navigating the world of work:
Can you share some of your employment history?
I climbed the corporate ladder to become a global HRBP in one of the world’s Top FSTE 100 finance companies. I am proud to say that I have taken on many roles, including team management, ER project management and recruitment.
Now, as CIPD Manchester Branch Chair, a business and career strategy coach specialising in diversity and inclusion, I have a passion for helping individuals and organisations to excel. I believe that with the right guidance and support, everyone can reach their fullest potential without barriers. That’s why I’m dedicated to providing professional coaching that leverages diversity and inclusion practices to promote success both personally and professionally, especially championing Women of Colour as the most underrepresented in the workplace to smash glass ceilings.
Have you ever experienced gender inequality, and if so what did you do to combat this and push for gender parity?
The HR department is an interesting field to observe in terms of gender parity. In my experience at entry level positions, it often appears that the majority of employees are female. However, as one moves up the ranks and into higher-level management positions, a more balanced ratio between male and female begins to emerge depending on the role e.g recruitment, reward and HR analysts tend to male dominated and then the more operational and hands on roles like HR advisors and HRBPs appear to be filled by female employees.
It is clear that while women have made significant strides in the HR profession, there is still a clear imbalance between genders at the very top of the corporate ladder and this is where I have witnessed male employees promoted over females.
I think the HR profession does need to ensure that gender parity is achieved in their own HR departments, and organisations must take proactive steps to increase female representation within key decision-making positions as well as provide opportunities for women to advance their careers especially amongst minority females where representation is even lower.
In order to take the necessary steps HR leaders can include hiring practices that prioritise diversity and inclusion, career development programs that support female employees, or initiatives to increase the visibility of women in leadership roles. By focusing on these areas, companies can ensure that HR departments are an equitable environment for both men and women. Ultimately, achieving gender parity in HR is essential to creating a strong and successful workplace culture. With increased diversity comes new perspectives which can pave the way for innovative solutions and better decision-making. Achieving a gender-balanced HR department is thus an important step in helping organisations reach their full potential.
What advice would you give to others facing similar issues?
When it comes to facing similar issues of gender parity; my advice is simple: focus on the power of your own agency. Believe that you can make a difference and have the courage to take action. Knowledge is essential, but it’s what you do with that knowledge that really counts. So be brave!
Finally let me also urge you to surround yourself with a diverse group of people who can inspire and motivate you. Having these allies will give you the confidence to stand up for what you believe in and push forward with tangible change. Never be afraid to ask questions or raise your voice if you see something that isn’t right and needs change. You have the power to make a real difference and create a more equitable society for us all. So fight for what matters, never give up, and always trust in your own strength.
To create a world where women are seen as equal to men.
About the author
Raine Jane Curtis is the Branch Secretary at the CIPD Manchester Branch and is currently studying towards a CIPD level 3 qualification in people practise.