I have just been part of something life-changing. Along with 269 other volunteers from across the UK I flew to Cape Town last week with the charity Mellon Educate where, in 7 days, we built 13 new classrooms, 2 toilet blocks, 1 kitchen, 2 sun shelters with tables and a seating area and renovated 7 other buildings and 2 playgrounds at 2 different locations in Khayelitsha, South Africa’s second largest township – wow! I am exhausted but elated. How did we do it? Each day started with a 5:45 wakeup call. By 6:15am we were down for breakfast and by 7am we were on the bus and by 7:30am (latest) we were all hard at work and did not stop until 5:30pm, apart from a really quick lunch and tea breaks! I personally worked with a small painting team where we painted fifteen 6ft high bookcases (four times each), eleven blackboards (twice each) the perimeter fence around the playground as well as about fifteen windows! I also learned how to plaster a wall and build a long table and benches all out of blockwork. I have never ever worked so hard in all of my life and loved every single minute of it. The pace of work was incredible, the sun shone brightly and strongly all day and for two days we coped with high winds known as the ‘Cape Doctor’. But never once did the banter or high spirits falter or the team camaraderie drop. It was unforgettable to work with such a group of people, 98% of whom I had never met before – the team spirit was exceptional as we were all joined together by a higher purpose to help severely impoverished children whose lives are simply desperate have the chance of an education. As Nelson Mandela famously said – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. Last week we gave 2,700 children the chance of a good education so that their hopes and dreams can come true as that is all they have – their hopes and dreams. Living in Khayelitsha This township is one of the most dangerous places to live in South Africa. We were therefore privileged to be shown around. Their living conditions are simply barbaric – thousands upon thousands of flimsy shacks built out of rusty old corrugated iron sit cheek by jowl offering little relief from the weather or any form of security. On average each shack is home to a family of seven (spanning three generations many of the children are orphans) as well as rats, mice and countless germs. Forget running water or any form of sanitation – one working light bulb if you are lucky! They live in fear of their lives, but the children skip eagerly to school each day as here they get two meals a day and the chance of a future. So, what next? I have made the decision to commit my time to Mellon Educate to reach their dream of educating 100,000 impoverished African children so I will be going back, and in 5 and 7 years’ time the plan is to take both my children when they have turned 16 years old. I would love to thank every single person who sponsored me so generously – I can assure you 100% that every single penny went straight into building the schools and if you would like to join me next year then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I would love nothing more than to take a group of mothers from 2to3days. Action is the only way to make your dreams come true - you just need to take the first step, and then the next!
We have six months to go before new UK legislation will see companies with more than 250 people having to report on the size of their gender pay gap. Companies will need to report not only on pay by gender, but also on the gender bonus gap, and most tellingly on the proportion of men and women working in each quantile of the organisation’s pay distribution. By making salaries more transparent and more comparable, we can shine a light on just where the talent pipeline is broken, and why in particular fewer women work in senior management roles. This will highlight the gaps that need to be plugged and courses corrected, enabling more women to make a significant difference to their companies – after all, companies with greater diversity at board level have been seen to outperform those without. While companies will have a year before they have to report in April 2018, more enlightened employers will be tackling the issues now - identifying and understanding their gaps, putting an action plan in place to address key issues. From companies we have spoken to, we understand that major gaps will be seen at senior level, where the solution is to offer part-time work to experienced women who are ready to come back to work after children, balance work with family life and make a contribution on results rather than effort. Here’s an opportunity to get ahead of the game in the fight to get the best and brightest candidates to fill roles right across their companies. So how did we end up here? Paying women less than men for exactly the same role isn’t the point. Where men may want more money, women may need to give more value to flexibility, leaving, as Anne-Marie Slaughter has identified, the ‘care penalty’ as the main driver of gender inequality. Women’s pay is a good 95% match to men’s until you add caring, and therefore part-time hours into the mix. That’s when the inherent assumptions kick in – you may be given worse projects, you can’t or won’t travel, you can’t work longer hours; this all leads to fewer opportunities and a hard drop in value. We can all fall for the gender differences and bias that we find in history, with cultural and social causes, and be affected by them either consciously or unconsciously. Girls might be led by parents and teachers into particular careers seen as traditional, female-dominated low-paying occupations; lack of affordable childcare prevents many women working after children, and they are still the main takers of ‘shared parental leave’. Lack of equal pay implies a difference in value between men and women’s work, undermining confidence and punting a society-wide belief that men’s work is more valuable. Women may not be as ready as men to bargain on salary or flexibility: “The gender pay gap is not all down to the Institutions – women are notoriously bad at negotiating for their salaries. If you know that your Limiting Beliefs hold you back in pay reviews, get yourself into the right mindset – be firm, fair and believe in your worth. And if you find it difficult to stand up for yourself, remember that, like a man in the family, you are also a ‘provider’- your salary counts and is not just a nice to have. It also helps to think of negotiating on your children's behalf, not just yourself. Women are much better at fighting other people’s corners!” Cara Moore, women’s career coach and champion, www.caramoore.co.uk Let’s kick out the bias and embrace a new business mindset, where everyone gets valued on their output rather than the hours they work – that way we all get to reach our full potential. Demanding more transparency from businesses will leave no place for workplace gender inequality to hide. In today’s changing work climate it is well overdue that we explode the myths and blitz the motherhood penalty. What can we do now? The time for quiet acceptance of these double standards is over. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Pay Gap Report showed that the gap will reduce organically – in about 170 years. We can’t afford to wait that long – and we shouldn’t have to. And as addressing the gender pay gap could add £150bn to the UK economy by 2025, none of us can afford to wait either. We need to take action now to close the gap: Equalise leave entitlements Enable men to do more caring and normalise their involvement Advertise all jobs as flexible unless there is a good business reason not to Get women into higher paid roles What is stopping you promoting flexibility? If you don’t want to miss out on potentially the best candidates, if you want to see how increased diversity from the top down can improve your business results, as an employer you need to start addressing this now. If gender pay gap reporting will highlight particular gaps in your organisation, areas where your talent pipeline is not working as it should be, then take a look at our range of very strong candidates. We have some fabulous talent on our books at 2to3days across a range of industries and at all levels of experience. Don’t risk being named and shamed – seize this positive opportunity to put your company ahead of the wave, gain competitive advantage and score the best and brightest candidates before your competitors do. We can help you find qualified candidates quickly and easily: our satisfied employers are consistently impressed with the calibre of this growing pool of talented mothers. From only £300 + vat for a month’s advertising, why not find out more and place an advert today?