Everyone within a company must take the leadership on equality to make a difference, says the director of Bristol’s Women in Business Charter.
Speaking during a recent webinar discussion on women, work and the impact of Covid-19, Sandra Gordon, who is also a businesswoman and magistrate, argues that cultural change within organisations is key to a more equitable future and says it can’t just be down to one person.
Women have been disproportionately impacted by the measures put in place to manage the spread of coronavirus. They are over-represented in hospitality and retail, two sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, and are more likely to fall into the ‘low earner’ category, in which only one in ten workers are able to work from home.
Mothers are 47 per cent more likely to have permanently lost their job or quit, according to recent findings by The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education, while women working from home are also bearing the brunt of childcare, homeschooling and household chores during lockdown.
But panellist Annabel Smith, who is an expert on the gendered impacts of economic policy and is taking a lead role on the coordination of Bristol City Council’s One City approach, says there is reason to be positive about the city’s ability to rebuild from the crisis.
“We’re a city that’s not afraid to disrupt the status quo,” she says. “The One City Approach has given us a framework for collaboration and the governance methods to support the recovery that other cities are now scrambling to put together.”
The webinar, chaired by Jane Ginnever, followed the series run by the One City Economy Board, set up by mayor Marvin Rees to work to support the recovery of the city’s economy is a fair, inclusive way.
Panellist Diane Bunyan convenes the Bristol Women’s Commission Economy Task Group, is a trustee of Bristol Women’s Voice and Watershed, and a consultant specialising in equality and human rights. She agreed there is hope, saying: “Things do change. We’ve got the skills, we’ve got the knowledge, and we know what needs to be done. We need to translate that into action now.”
The panel emphasised the importance of a collaborative approach to economic recovery, and the need to include a diverse range of employees in discussions within businesses, while also supporting the communities they are part of to do that too.
Bristol launched the UK’s first Women in Business Charter in March 2019. Employers from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors that have signed up have pledged a commitment to making real progress towards gender equality and sharing good practice and learning.
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