Thirty years on, time for a change of pace

CCB

 

Posted in: Analysis/Comment, Employees, Speaking Out

Thirty years on, time for a change of pace

June 01, 2000

To achieve a more diverse and equal workplace, companies should now look beyond their immediate workforce and so force the pace of change.
CCB Editorial Comment

Opportunity Now praises P&G, Littlewoods and others

Procter & Gamble UK won two awards for efforts to achieve equality for women at work. BITC’s Opportunity Now campaign makes five awards each year for measures taken by companies which demonstrate both their commitment to equality and clear business benefits. On May 25 it held this year’s awards ceremony. Procter & Gamble, where 19% of associate directors are women, won an award for its Sex@Work.shop, designed to recognise the validity of ‘female styles’ of management, and for its Business Scorecard which tracks gender diversity results alongside profit and volume figures. This year’s other winners are Halifax – which won the Demonstrating Commitment category for its video-based training scheme on equal opportunities responsibilities – the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Causeway Health & Social Services.

The Littlewoods Organisation is among top performers in the campaign’s third annual benchmarking report and index, covering over 200 companies and published in April. Findings include:

• three quarters now have board level responsibility for gender issues;

• over 70% have policies to support gender-related goals – up by almost 15% since last year;

• four in ten are developing ways to measure line managers’ performance in this area;

• over half offer equal opportunities awareness training for staff, up by more than 13%.

The most important area for improvement, according to Opportunity Now, is the need to monitor the number of women from minority ethnic communities – very few do so at present.

The campaign has also published a report entitled Best Practice 2000, featuring case studies on equal pay, flexible working and staff development.

Contact Zena James, Opportunity Now, on 020 7317 2246 or 020 7317 2234 (http://www.opportunitynow.org.uk)

Big companies could do better on work-life balance

SMEs perform better than major corporations on flexible working arrangements, despite pressure to operate longer hours, according to Breakpoint/Breakthrough: Work Life Strategies for the 21st Century, a report by the National Work-life Forum released in May. The report outlines benefits of a better work-life balance and strategies to realise them, with business case studies from major companies like Tesco, SmithKline Beecham, BT, Scottish Amicable, Barclays Bank and Prudential Direct. Contact Industrial Society Customer Centre on 0870 400 1000. (http://www.worklifeforum.com)

Coke – It’s the race thing!

Following a lawsuit filed last year by black employees who felt that the company was denying fair pay, promotions, pay raises and performance reviews to African-Americans, Coca-Cola announced a five-year, $1 billion diversity investment programme at its AGM on May 16. Focused on empowerment and entrepreneurship, this has five main aspects:

• increased spending with minority – and women-owned businesses, combined with targeted minority supplier identification and a new supplier mentoring scheme;

• increased company investments in local economies, including a 50-community expansion of the Urban Customer Partner initiative (from the current 13);

• increased opportunities for minority financial institutions and businesses in Coca-Cola’s future investments;

• creation of a task-force, headed by Coca-Cola’s president, to determine specific opportunities for equality and ownership in the company’s supply chain; and

• increased community contributions.

Contact Coca-Cola on 00 1 404 676 2121 (http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com)

Auntie’s racial diversity

Speaking at the Race in the Media Awards on April 7, the new director-general of the BBC, Greg Dyke, pledged to increase the number of people from minority ethnic groups working for the Corporation. Although the BBC has met its target of 8% of employees from minorities, only 2% are in management. Mr Dyke set a new target of 10% of employees by 2003, with the proportion of managers doubling to at least 4%. At the RIMA awards themselves, the advert from Prudential subsidiary EGG, I’m The Token Black Man, won in the advertising category. BT, Carlton Television, Seagram UK and Woolworths are among the sponsors of the awards, which are organised by the Commission for Racial Equality. Contact, BBC Press Centre on 020 8576 1865 (http://www.bbc.co.uk) or RIMA on 020 8864 2005 (http://www.cre.gov.uk)

Enter the Disability Rights Commission

The new Disability Rights Commission started work on April 19. Building on the work of its predecessor, the National Disability Council, the mission is to enforce the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. This makes it illegal for employers and service providers to refuse or limit disabled people’s access to goods or services; however it only covers companies with 15 or more employees. The DRC will use information and advice to employers and disabled people (via caseworkers, a website and helpline), conciliation, research and, if necessary, investigations and court cases to protect the interests of the UK’s 8.7 million disabled people.

The DRC launched a consultation on May 8 about provisions of the Act which will require businesses to make their services accessible to disabled people by improving access to premises where reasonable. Officials estimate this could cost business £1.2 billion. The DRC is also consulting on a practical guide to help small and medium sized businesses make the required physical changes to their buildings. Contact DRC Helpline on 08457 622 633 (http://www.drc-gb.org)

Who? Me?

A third of FTSE 250 companies are not aware that they need to make changes in the way they provide services to members of the public to comply with the new legislation preventing discrimination against the disabled. A survey by law firm, Addleshaw Booth, found companies either do not know they need to make changes, or think that the legislation – which came into force on April 24 – is not applicable to them. Contact Christian Collinson or Louise Vaughan, Addleshaw Booth, on 0161 934 6206 (http://www.addlesshaw-booth.co.uk)

Editorial Comment

Statistically, the pay gap means women are either paid less for doing the same work as men or generally do less highly valued jobs in the economy. In fact, of course, both are true. Leaving the Equal Opportunities Commission to address the former, Opportunity Now concentrates on the second half of the equation, offering advice and highlighting best practice – work-life balance, flexible hours, training, etc. And it can report good progress among its adherents, as reported above: women comprise 45% of private sector junior management positions, up 5% on last year; among middle managers, the proportion has risen from 27% to 33%.

One problem highlighted by the benchmark study is the small number of companies recording data on female managers from minority ethnic communities. This reflects widespread failure of UK companies to do the numbers on ethnic composition. In the US, Coca-Cola’s failure is costing mega-bucks to put right. Interestingly, most of these resources are being spent outside the company, to change the whole environment of economic opportunity. Recruitment, training and promotion can have only limited impact in an era of lean, down-sized and outsourced corporations.

On this thirtieth anniversary, the lesson for supporters of Opportunity Now and the other diversity campaigns is to extend the focus to the wider economy. Look at your supply and distribution chains, check your bought-in services, review your wider support for enterprise initiatives. Then there is some hope that the next thirty years will show an accelerating pace of change.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 52 – June, 2000

COMMENT:

Statistically, the pay gap means women are either paid less for doing the same work as men or generally do less highly valued jobs in the economy. In fact, of course, both are true. Leaving the Equal Opportunities Commission to address the former, Opportunity Now concentrates on the second half of the equation, offering advice and highlighting best practice – work-life balance, flexible hours, training, etc. And it can report good progress among its adherents, as reported above: women comprise 45% of private sector junior management positions, up 5% on last year; among middle managers, the proportion has risen from 27% to 33%.

One problem highlighted by the benchmark study is the small number of companies recording data on female managers from minority ethnic communities. This reflects widespread failure of UK companies to do the numbers on ethnic composition. In the US, Coca-Cola’s failure is costing mega-bucks to put right. Interestingly, most of these resources are being spent outside the company, to change the whole environment of economic opportunity. Recruitment, training and promotion can have only limited impact in an era of lean, down-sized and outsourced corporations.

On this thirtieth anniversary, the lesson for supporters of Opportunity Now and the other diversity campaigns is to extend the focus to the wider economy. Look at your supply and distribution chains, check your bought-in services, review your wider support for enterprise initiatives. Then there is some hope that the next thirty years will show an accelerating pace of change.

COMMENTS