A recent survey conducted by the charity Young Women’s Trust (YWT) has unearthed a disturbing trend among human resources executives in England and Wales.

The results of the poll, which some are calling “shocking,” indicate that nearly one in seven HR decision-makers believe men are better suited to senior management roles than women.

The survey, involving 907 HR sole or joint decision-makers, revealed that 15 percent agreed with the statement that “men are better suited to senior management jobs than women,” while almost one in five admitted reluctance to hire women they believed might start families.

Alesha De-Freitas, the Head of Policy at the Fawcett Society, expressed her dismay, stating, “It is shocking that HR managers still believe that men are better suited to senior management than women.

This then funnels through to all of women’s experiences at work, from pay discrimination to unfair treatment around contracts.”

Prejudiced views

The figures also indicated a concerning trend among younger HR managers, with a higher likelihood of holding prejudiced views against women’s capacity to take on significant roles within an organisation.

Claire Reindorp, YWT’s Chief Executive, voiced her concern, emphasising the real and lasting impact such views have on women in the workplace. She said, “It’s a travesty that in 2023 young women still aren’t being given the same chances in life as young men.”

The survey also shed light on the perception of gender balance efforts within companies. It was revealed that almost a third of male managers feel companies are putting too much emphasis on achieving gender balance in the workplace, suggesting persistent challenges for workplace gender equality.

Stronger efforts are required

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), representing HR managers, acknowledged the concerning results and emphasised the need for stronger efforts. Claire McCartney, the Senior Inclusion and Resourcing Adviser for CIPD, stated, “There needs to be a much stronger focus now on increasing the number of women in executive committee roles and their direct reports to build a strong pipeline of female talent for the future.”

In addition to HR heads’ biased views, YWT also polled 4,000 young women, uncovering disparities in pay and opportunities. Almost one in four reported being paid less than young men for the same work, and half expressed concerns about limited opportunities for career progression.

As the discussion on gender equality continues, the Department for Business and Trade, led by Kemi Badenoch, who also serves as the Minister for Women and Equalities, declined to comment on the survey’s findings. The Young Women’s Trust calls for continued efforts to address gender stereotypes and biases, emphasising the urgent need for change in the workplace culture.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.