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Women’s rights in the workplace have changed radically over the past few decades. Despite incredible advances, women still face a lot of issues and professional challenges. For International Women in Engineering Day, Renovo has highlighted some key issues that women face when in employment or job searching, with some action steps on how to address them.
For women, returning to work after a career break can be a daunting prospect, whether returning after a baby, looking after a sick relative or having had a period of ill health. It is estimated that there are approximately 427,000 women currently on career break who wish to return to work at some point in the future. Returning to work may make you feel low in confidence, unsure about how to return and unaware of your options.
Some industries and sectors have a return to work programme - A ‘Returnship’ is an opportunity for employers to access an untapped pool of experienced individuals who may have taken an extended career break and are looking to return to their profession. These programmes offer returners a re-introduction to the workplace and addresses issues such as confidence, as well as updating industry-specific knowledge. Introduced by Goldman Sachs, several organisations such as NatWest, O2, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were some of the 23 companies who offered Returnships in the UK last year, and around 90% of those on placements were women. To access the full list of organisations visit http://wrpn.womenreturners.com/returnships/
Working flexibly is an issue for lots of women. Research shows that females who have children or care giving responsibilities often struggle to find flexible opportunities, as well as many women being singled out with a lack of flexibility from their employer. Flexible working supports family/personal circumstances so women can find a positive work life balance. Some employers pride themselves on having a flexible workplace.
When job searching, it’s important to remember that just because a job advert doesn’t advertise flexibility, it doesn’t mean that the employer won’t consider it. Employers are becoming increasingly more open minded to flexible working and now recognise that it makes good business sense to focus on productivity and results rather than time spent in the office. You also have the right to ask for flexible work if you have been working in a business for over 6 months.
A recent report has found that more men attempt to negotiate their pay than women. In order to negotiate your salary effectively, you must know what you are worth in the marketplace, the salary you are looking for and what the organisation is able to offer. If an employer asks you about salary and you cannot confidently answer, it may put you in a weak position.
To be in the strongest possible position to negotiate salary you must ensure that your expectations are realistic. Know what you and the position are worth. You must be able to sell your experience and achievements and demonstrate how relevant they are for the role. Make sure you have prepared examples of how you can add value to the organisation, so you are able to justify the salary you are asking for.
Some experts believe that women face more difficulties than men when it comes to reaching high visibility, leadership and executive roles. Professional development and career growth can mean different things for different women. Whatever career progression means to you, feeling comfortable and being able to articulate your career goals is essential, whether it’s in interview or with your current organisation – this is pivotal when developing and shaping your career. You will need to research and assess your offering, demonstrate that you are willing to be proactive and manage your own development.
Sharing your strengths and keenness to develop your skills and knowledge with your manager and other influential people in your organisation will encourage them to support you throughout the process. Construct a list of what you have to offer, your achievements, strengths and expertise and consider the areas you would like more exposure to. Build relationships with people across the business and have conversations with people about their own personal career paths.
Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you, please call 0800 612 2011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org