Latest figures show an overall improvement to female unemployment, as International Women’s Day highlights the importance of building a diverse workforce
In the last decade, significant strides have been made by employers to ensure workforces are more diverse and employees are treated fairly, with no preferential treatment given to individuals on the basis of protected characteristics, such as gender, sex and race. That being said, building a truly diverse and inclusive workforce is an ongoing process and one that cannot be achieved overnight.
With International Women’s Day taking place on March 8, the latest Government employment figures highlight the importance of maintaining the progress made in recent times, whereby UK businesses have seen a larger female representation, particularly at board level.
However, whilst the most recent statistics show a small improvement in terms of the UK’s overall employment rate, there are still some regions falling behind in terms of female employment. For example, the South East experienced the largest annual increase to female unemployment of 33.4%, whilst the North East saw a 24% increase.
In contrast, East Midlands experienced the largest annual decrease, with an impressive 54.9% reduction, taking the total number of unemployed women from 73,000 to 33,000. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland saw the second largest improvement of 37.2%, proving that not all regions are neglecting the issue.
The South West then makes up the top three most improved regions with a 33.6% decrease, whilst Scotland is the only other region to record an annual increase (7.5%).
Hire with caution
Given the fact that many businesses believe the worst of the pandemic is now behind them, there will be a growing number of employers looking to hire new talent in a bid to resume operations at full capacity. Therefore, it is important that during the recruitment process, employers think carefully about how they select applicants, so as to avoid any accusations of discrimination.
Tina Chander, Head of the Employment Law team at Wright Hassall, commented: “Given the challenges people have faced in the last two years, it is great to read some positive news with regards to employment rates, with 72% of women aged 16-64 currently in work, and a small improvement to the male employment rate too.
“However, there are still some regions that have experienced an annual increase in terms of female unemployment, so it is important that businesses do not get complacent on the issue and they continue to build diverse and inclusive cultures.
“From a business perspective, having a diverse workforce provides a wide range of benefits, as it gives organisations access to different talents, ideas and approaches, which allows for a much more complete service offering, with better results delivered.
“Remember, when it comes to reviewing applications and selecting candidates, businesses must consider The Equality Act 2010, which states that an employer cannot treat an employee (or applicant) worse than another because of a protected characteristic, else this could lead to claims of discrimination.
“Therefore, it is crucial that employers take their time during the recruitment process, especially in the post-pandemic era when a growing number of businesses will be competing with each other to attract new talent.”