#Inspiring Inclusion for Women in the Workplace

08 Mar 2024

Published in: Black Country Chamber of Commerce News

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce reflects on this year's theme and the chamber-wide efforts towards workplace equity.

Across the chamber network, the focus on women in the workplace has been discussed in detail in the annual run up to International Women’s Day. One year since the launch of the British Chambers of Commerce’s Gender Equity Campaign, the survey showed that two thirds of women feel they have missed out on career progression because of childcare responsibilities in addition to perceived lack of support for non-paid carers and women experiencing menopause.

  • Two-thirds (67%) of female respondents who have had childcare responsibilities in the last 10 years felt they missed out on career progression as a result.
  • 86% of female respondents believe there is not sufficient support available for people with non-paid caring responsibilities for elderly or disabled relatives or friends.
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of female respondents feel there is not sufficient support for those experiencing menopause.

The development of the Chamber Workplace Equity Commission was the first stage in a network-wide commitment to move the dial on inequality. For this year’s theme - #InspireInclusion - the local contribution of our Black Country Women in Leadership and women in Start-Up Business Club cannot be understated.

Q. How can local government, Chambers of Commerce and other partners at a local level work together to support SMEs?

A. As a Chamber, we work closely with local councils, our Women in Leadership and Start Up Business networks to identify small business owners. In fact, some of our Start-Up Business Club members have journeyed across to the Women in Leadership network to access a wider pool of fellow female mentors and contacts to collaborate with. As a facilitator in this process, this is exactly what we love to see: guaranteed support for women across each stage of business development and not only when starting out. As your business needs change, we are here to support this growth into the next phase of your Chamber journey.

Q. What change in government policy (UK and/or devolved) could make the biggest difference in helping SMEs to create equitable workplaces?

A. That’s exactly why we make it our mission to hear from you. Through our networking events, discussion panels and workshops we get businesses talking about the successes and challenges they are facing. Lobbying on the behalf of Black Country SME’s – including female business owners – through these channels means we can feedback to Parliament with your first-hand views plus the regional stats to back them up. It’s proven that businesses do better together and the voice of many can call on the change needed to influence important issues within workplace inclusion (e.g. flexible working & childcare support, inclusive women’s health & maternity policies, easier accessibility to support) in government policy.

Q. What lessons can we learn from other countries?

A. In addition to the 53 regional Chambers in the UK, there are currently over 75 of British Chambers of Commerce and business groups operating internationally. Across the world, policies that have helped promote workplace equity include:

  • Clearer equality legislation to reduce cultural gender-bias which promotes fairer terms in the workplace (Sweden)
  • Right to request to promote transparency surrounding pay in effort to reduce the gender pay gap (Germany)
  • Increased paternity leave to minimise women’s extended absence in the workplace (Norway)
  • 50% female representation in parliamentary decision-making to prevent gender-exclusionary policies (Rwanda)
  • Increased representation of men in so-called “feminized” industries, e.g. healthcare and teaching, to combat cultural assumptions of care as a “woman’s job” (UK)

Hundreds of these local-level contributions around the globe are already spurring change for women and girls. Eventually, our efforts to create more equitable workplaces will be the blueprint for future generations in business. What will you do to inspire inclusion? Share your thoughts on social media and tag us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram so we can all get inspired!

If you want to find out more about Black Country Women in Leadership visit: https://www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk/campaigns-projects/women-in-leadership/ or email website@blackcountrychamber.co.uk

Are you a local resident in the early stages of starting your own business? Visit: https://www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk/membership/membership-packages/the-startup-business-club/ to become a member or view our Wolverhampton and Walsall support services for free advice. Email Start-Up Business Manager Alison Trinder at AlisonTrinder@blackcountrychamber.co.uk

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