Exemplar Employers Best Practice Recommendations for Reducing Occupational Segregation

In 2007 Opportunity Now partnered with the Government Equalities Office to identify 100 Exemplar Employers who were doing innovative work to address, Occupational Segration, Equal Pay, Flexible Working, Training and Development, and Women Returners. Today the best practice recommendations are still relavent and provide an excellent basis for developing strategies to progress the narrowing of the gender pay gap and to improve opportunities for women in the workplace.

Best Practice Recommendationsfor Reducing Occupational Segregation
Not all these ideas will apply to every organisation, but they have been identified as best practice from the Exemplar Employer projects submitted.
 

Research

  • Set up a working group to review recruitment and advertising with a view to attracting a more diverse workforce
  • Research local demographics to understand where and how to recruit most effectively
  • Work with a local university to determine the community’s perception of the organisation as a place for women to work.
  • Conduct research with partner organisations to find out why women are under-represented in particular job types.
  • Survey staff to identify the reasons why internal job advertisements attract varying responses.
  • Run female only workshops and surveys to inform the business about barriers and other issues facing female staff.
  • Review HR policies and procedures to explore barriers to recruitment of women.

Working with Partners

  • Support partnerships or consortia bringing together high schools and primary schools, further education colleges and universities, as well as local education and business support organisations.
  • Team up with local authorities and other local employers to develop schemes to attract women into non-traditional sectors, and to provide work experience and on-the-job training.
  • Partner with Job Centre Plus to work with unemployed people from under-represented groups to assist them in developing skills for non-traditional roles.
  • Colleges and training organisations should work alongside employers to ensure the best possible match of skills and to convince employers of the business case for recruiting girls.
  • Forge links with professional institutions such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  • Work in partnership with external bodies such as e-skills, Careers Scotland etc.
  • Attend as many local forums as possible and work with other organisations challenging gender stereotyping.
  • Provide financial support, in liaison with the Government, to finance, eg, Engineering Specialist Schools.
  • Work with other organisations to equip women who are already working in non-traditional industries with the skills to run a small business and market themselves.
  • Bring together organisations in the same sector from Europe and the USA to explore how they are tackling the barriers and issues faced by women.

Attracting young people

  • Consult key stakeholders, such as, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, school volunteers and link schools before developing an education programme.
  • Partner with a range of schools from public and private sectors and from inner city schools.
  • Build relationships with schools and run presentations and information seminars to help young people explore their options and learn about opportunities in the organisation.
  • Arrange after-school science, engineering and robotic clubs to give students hands-on experience of working with real engineers in a fun environment, using female engineers whenever possible to dispel stereotypes and provide positive role models.
  • Encourage staff to volunteer for after-school activities to support and motivate children on specific projects, eg, in engineering.
  • Host 6-month school based project schemes for bright 16+ students to problem solve.
  • Provide training facilities for young people to learn about particular industries and trades within the school environment.
  • Provide a one-day practical experience course for primary school children.
  • Consider creative training with a primary school to discuss and tackle gender stereotyping.
  • Target school children before they make decisions about GCSE subjects
  • Use Insight Days to demonstrate the range of opportunities available at the organisation, eg, what IT careers can be offered at a non-IT organisation
  • Provide exciting online resources targeted at schools and communities to provide up to date information about working in the sector.
  • Provide positive image resources for schools, libraries and youth clubs.
  • Provide information on challenging gender stereotyping to young people and parents.
  • Use a range of methods to convince girls about the opportunities in non-traditional areas, eg, presentations, discussion groups, Master Classes (in trades), site visits, practical workshops and work experience.
  • Promote the industry by using girls already in apprenticeship training to showcase their work and answer questions on what the trade is really like and their own ambitions.
  • Run skills sessions on work-related topics, such as, team work and CV writing, to help students build the skills that they will need in the workplace.
  • Encourage senior staff to visit local schools to offer interview skills and give feedback to the pupils on their performance.
  • Arrange question and answer sessions for pupils to find out more about working at the organisation, job roles and career prospects.
  • Hold Gender Stereotyping Taster Days to give students an opportunity to sample courses not normally associated with their gender.
  • Offer programmes in the organisation for school girls to challenge their preconceptions and give them a flavour of the breadth and depth of opportunities available
  • Hold fun events, such as, ‘What’s my Line’ panel game to test young people’s perceptions and flexible thinking around the kind of jobs people do.
  • Develop an innovative drama-based schools roadshow, approaching the subject in a novel way, telling a story and having a girl as its lead character.
  • Follow up schools programmes with opportunities for work experience and internships,.
  • When recruiting, group girls together at assessment centres for peer support.
  • Maintain a dialogue with school programme alumni through university.
  • Participate in schemes, such as, the Institute of Engineering and Technology Power Academy scheme for electrical/power engineering students, providing financial assistance and work placements.
  • As well as running a ‘Take Your Daughter to Work’ day, encourage parents to bring in sons to experience traditionally ‘female’ roles
  • Broaden ‘Take Your Daughter to Work’ day to attract girls from local schools as well as the children of staff.
  • Ensure senior level commitment and endorsement, eg, by CEO addressing schools programme participants or hosting a Q&A session with them.
  • Arrange for young people to cross-shadow a member of the senior management team to see what they do for a day.
  • Arrange for female staff to visit schools and career centres to act as role models and to escort tours around the site at interview.
  • Have an all-female education team to provide training days at education centres to support the science curriculum.
  • Encourage High Schools to release their staff to upskill primary colleagues.
  • Provide teachers and careers advisors with additional career guidance resources to support them and their students and introduce them to a range of other organisations providing specialist careers guidance
  • Work with external organisations, such as, Institute of Physics, to help teachers bring subjects to life by providing them with first-hand experience of working scientist.
  • Host teacher conferences to raise awareness of the organisation/sector and the opportunities for young people.
  • Produce a recruitment video starring a diverse group of engineers, including video stories from young female graduate recruits and apprentices.
  • Target advertising at publications for teenage girls, such as, Cosmo Girl and Bliss.
  • Participate in broader initiatives, such as, Computer Clubs for Girls.
  • Sponsor national events, such as, Young Engineer for Britain.
  • Participate in programmes such as the Year in Industry for gap year students, giving them 12 months work experience.
  • Provide information seminars to staff who are parents or carers to help them provide accurate information about work and employment opportunities to their own children.
  • Attracting non-traditional recruits.
  • Provide written guidance to recruitment agencies, staff with recruitment responsibilities and recruitment panels about recruiting from the widest possible pool.
  • Set targets for the percentage of female applicants for vacancies from recruitment agencies and monitor their progress against these targets.
  • Use specialist websites to advertise vacancies, eg Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
  • Ensure that recruitment posters and application forms are user-friendly with pictures depicting women in the working environment
  • Advertise training opportunities as widely as possible, eg, in posters, visits to schools, visits to Job Centres and advertising in local magazines.
  • Think creatively about where to advertise, eg, women’s gyms and sports teams, and working with local Gay and Lesbian support groups
  • Hold workshops on pre-testing and interview skills to help women applicants understand the selection process and build confidence
  • Consider setting practical tests with full instruction so that potential employees are tested on their ability to assimilate and apply instructions rather than on their previous knowledge
  • Hold awareness days to give candidates the opportunity to try out recruitment tests, self assessment questionnaires, any physical tests, and talk to serving female staff about their experiences, formally and informally (perhaps over lunch)
  • Take positive action around candidates who are unsuccessful in recruitment to keep them in the system and encourage them to apply in the future
  • Offer women only taster courses in non-traditional trades, such as, bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, painting and decorating, and plastering
  • Run short taster programmes to encourage young mums to consider building trades.
  • Keep the size of taster programmes small: around 12 participants.
  • Arrange women-only evening taster events and advertise in local papers and to women’s groups
  • Provide all-female presenters as role models and to show the opportunities for women in the organisation.
  • Arrange women-specific events to give an insight into working at the organisation and to encourage more applications from women.
  • Help women to train in recognised qualifications, such as, NVQs and to acquire any essential skills, such as the health and safety qualification for the building industry.
  • Brief employers on what to expect from work experience participants.
  • Set up networks to support women in non-traditional areas, eg, women in science, engineering and technology network to discuss promotion and recruitment.
  • Facilitate Action Learning Sets where women can share experiences and explore career options.

Training

  • Research training needs and barriers to participation before developing courses
  • Set up a pre-employment training and empowerment programme
  • Tailor training to individual needs
  • Provide advice on follow-up courses and qualifications
  • Provide confidence-building training and training in areas such as customer service, health and safety, personal effectiveness, team working, as well as job specific training.
  • Where possible, use female trainers.
  • Include work placements as part of training courses.
  • Provide mentoring and practical support, eg, access to child care provision and travel costs, to support training programmes.
  • Provide equality and diversity training and refresher courses for recruitment managers.
  • Break down in-house gender stereotyping through equality and diversity training and ongoing publicity and awareness.
  • Arrange training for other staff to help new female apprentices fit in quickly in their new workplace
  • If the workforce is predominantly white male, arrange workshops for them to identify ways to improve gender balance


Other Support

  • Appoint a senior member of staff to coordinate work, reporting direct to the top, rather than working through an HR structure
  • Appoint a dedicated person to manage the process of matching work experience placements within the organisation and to ensure that trainee needs are met during the placements
  • Monitor work experience applications with a view to following up their future prospects
  • Raise the profile of women working in the organisation, particularly at senior levels, to show the variety of work women can do there
  • Use success stories to show how changes in employer equality policies, practices and procedures can lead to benefits for the business.
  • Make opportunities to profile women’s achievements, eg, an annual lecture from a prominent woman in the field.
  • Introduce mentors to support new starters (male and female) in their new environment.
  • Organise networking/mentoring support to improve female retention, including linking up with others working in the same sector.
  • Offer part-time or flexible working arrangements to women returners to encourage them back into specialist jobs.
  • Circulate a regular newsletter to keep staff informed about what the organisation is doing to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.
  • Seek out media coverage in local press and on local radio to showcase women’s achievements in the organisation, and ensure that all publicity has female representation