I’m still #mindingthegap: a summary of recent activity on the #genderpaygap

I’m still #mindingthegap: a summary of recent activity on the #genderpaygap

Fawcett Soc_IWD  2016_01I’ll be speaking about the gender pay gap at an event kindly hosted by Soho House in London tomorrow night, where we’ll share the current figures, ably summarised by this Fawcett Society graphic (in a nutshell: the current UK gender pay gap is 13.9% and, at the current rate of progress, it will take us FIFTY YEARS to close it) and then discussing – what can both employers and members  of the workforce actually do to challenge the status quo, close the gap and, critically, achieve parity before we reach 2066?

(Or even, 2133, based on the ever-cheery World Economic Forum’s forecast of The Gap needing 118 years to be closed at a global level).

Ahead of my end-of-the-week report on the event, here’s a summary of the last time I spoke about the gender pay gap, and a reminder that it apparently starts with pocket money.

Since Beyoncé and I took to the stage at Shoreditch House last September, we have new legal reporting requirements in place,  as summarised here in an article written for the blog by an employment lawyer and expanded upon in greater detail,  from the point of view of the employer, by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD).

There’s been a lot of news stories on the topic recently and I did a summary of them for you last month – here.

Gender pay gap (c) Matt Daily Telegraph Feb 2016I’ll close for now with another outing for my favourite #genderpaygap cartoon, © Matt and the Daily Telegraph … one picture, many words and a 13.9% gap.

And I look forward to meeting anyone who’s at the event tomorrow night- please feel free to ask questions, live Tweet us using hashtags #genderpaygap and/or #mindthegap and come and say ‘hello’ afterwards.

 

End of week round up – mostly celebrating #IWD2016

End of week round up – mostly celebrating #IWD2016

Overthrowing the patriarchyThis week,  it was pretty much all about International Women’s Day  on March 8th,  with lots of organisations using the event as a launch pad for their initiatives and announcements.  Here’s some of what caught my eye.

Back in 2008, I made a film called Closing the Gender Gap which featured the then deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She is now the executive director of UN Women and discusses in this Fortune interview  what International Women’s Day is all about. She had one very specific recommendation for how businesses of all sizes can help promote gender equality – clue: it involves money. And gaps. And here’s UN Women’s look at how IWD is celebrated around the world.

The ScotsWOMAN paper IWD 2016My absolute favourite story of the week (possibly the year, or maybe ever) was about newspaper The Scotsman becoming The ScotsWOMAN for the day, complete with an editorial mix which celebrated as well as analysed the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

IWD quotationsNewly launched newspaper the New Day (which also happens to have a female editor, Alison Phillips) shared a graphic featuring some great quotes and also published (yet another) tool to cheer us all up by allowing us to calculate where we fall on the gender pay gap. Meanwhile, The Guardian suggested that we stop asking for parity with men and instead ask for progress – which, given that the International Labour Organization reported that women have seen only “marginal improvements” in the world of work in the past 20 years, is a very valid point.

The mostly female team behind the hit BBC  show ‘Call the Midwife’ reminded us that the show:

“… places women at the very centre of every episode, and women’s stories at the central part of our world. The role of women in the birthing room – and the positive aspect of female relationships seen more widely – has too often been invisible in popular culture. Yet the immense worldwide popularity of our programme demonstrates that our viewers, male and female, see this as a positive and natural thing for a drama to show. We hope there will come a time when it is so natural to drama that it does not require special mention – or indeed a special day in the calendar.”

The BBC also shared three stories as part of their IWD coverage: five pictures that revealed how women are treated around the world; England cricket vice-captain Heather Knight looked back at how far the women’s game has come; and here’s an interesting series of images of women making technology work for them.

However,  it wasn’t all good news; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who has already enraged many by urging Turkish women to have at least three children and for calling efforts to promote birth control “treason”- said in his speech to celebrate IWD that he believes that “a woman is above all else a mother.”

Unesco reported, complete with some rather scary illustrations, that sexism and stereotyped language is rife in textbooks, whilst football club Wellingborough Town banned its chairman for making sexist remarks; perhaps he thought it was ‘banter’?

Nicholas Kristof (the ultimate champion of HeforShe, to my mind) commented on his Facebook page that:

“The group ONE has a new report noting that “poverty is sexist”–it absolutely is–and concluding that the worst places in the world to be born female are Niger, Somalia, Mali, CAR and Yemen. To me, the best index of global gender inequity is that there are still more males than females worldwide. Women live longer, so there should be more females. But because in so many places female foetuses are selectively aborted, or girls aren’t fed or vaccinated or taken to the doctor when sick, there are actually more males than females worldwide. And this can’t just be a women’s issue, but should be a men’s and women’s issue together!”

And the TUC issued a report which claims that women who have children before they are 35 take a 15% pay hit, compared with childless women. Other cheering data points include the fact that 20% of women under 25 were dismissed or forced out over pregnancy or maternity leave, compared to 10% of all mothers.

It’s the custom in many countries to present women with flowers on IWD – I was often given an individual rose on March 8th  when I worked in an office which had a large population of Russians, where IWD is also a public holiday. Perhaps it’s a shame that a bloke in Romania failed to remember the tradition, given his wife’s enraged reaction.

And finally,  for anyone in the mood for a Friday evening glass of wine,  The Guardian brought us the story of Italy’s first all-woman vineyard.  Saluti, cheers, sláinte, à votre santé, etc.

Did I miss anything? Please share stories or links in the comments below.

Have a great weekend – look out next week for a new #powerofthree interview with a woman who decided aged 11 that she wanted  to be a lawyer (spoiler alert: she made it!)

On #WomenandPower

On #WomenandPower

Hillary Clinton and PowerHillary Clinton is probably one of the most high profile and powerful women in the world at the moment, and is moving towards becoming America’s first ever female Presidential nominee. It is not, however,  the smooth path to the White House that she might (not unreasonably) have expected. Bernie Sanders crushed her in the recent New Hampshire primary—thanks in large part to female voters, 55% of whom say they voted for Sanders. The loss was undoubtedly a tough one for Clinton; she won the state in the 2008 race and it put her husband on the path to the White House in 1992. In her concession speech, Clinton looked forward, saying, “It is not whether you get knocked down that matters, it is whether you get back up.”

She subsequently won  major victories on ‘Super Tuesday’ in seven out of eleven Democratic primaries and caucuses, including Texas and Massachusetts. Her wins are credited to her popularity with minority voters and her kinship with Southern Democrats from the two decades she spent in Arkansas. There’s more on her campaign trail in this interesting piece from the BBC.

Elsewhere in the world, a new report suggests that women continue to face a double hurdle to gaining political power. While there has been an increase in women’s participation in politics across the globe, it has not necessarily resulted in an increase in their power and influence, a study by the Overseas Development Institute has found.

Although participation in political systems is a prerequisite for influence, women’s presence alone does not mean they have actual power or are able to make advances in gender equality. Women elected to public office are often seen as “troublemakers” and not “like other women”, are judged more harshly and can face violent backlashes for being politically active. The performance of individual women leaders can also affect public perceptions of the abilities of women in general.

Through interviews and observations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malawi and Kenya researchers found numerous examples of where women have brought about positive changes through their involvement in male-dominated political and judicial systems. The report concludes that the major factors in women achieving real political power are (my italics) advances in education and technical knowledge, economic independence, feminist organisations and political skills, combined with changes in social structures and rules.

ODI research fellow Tam O’Neil said:

“Women have more rights and representation than ever before, with democracy and quotas as key drivers. But women leaders must be credible in the eyes of their, mostly male, peers to have real power – and this means having higher education, technical competence, and economic independence. Increased representation is a shallow gain unless women also have access to resources, and unless widespread beliefs about women’s role and capabilities change. Policy-makers need to pay more attention to these issues.”

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • Village courts in Bangladesh now have at least one woman on all cases involving women and minors in project areas. However, social norms and structures prevent women from engaging in what are seen as male issues, such as land and property disputes.
  • In 2010, the women’s movement in Kenya succeeded in negotiating a constitution that was so progressive on gender issues that it was known as the ‘Women’s Constitution’. One of the key changes was a requirement that the Kenyan parliament include at least one third female representation.
  • Much of the backlash against increasing numbers of female Kenyan politicians is expressed through bullying, which is often sexual in nature. And even with increased representation in parliament, women remain a minority so must work hard to lobby male politicians to support legislation that treats men and women as equal.
  • An indication of the uphill struggle Kenyan female MPs face is the passing of a controversial marriage bill in 2014 which legalised polygamy.
  • A new survey of women MPs in Malawi shows that female candidates often face prejudice and gendered abuse during election campaigns. Once elected, women MPs can find it difficult to progress their own career or women’s rights in general. To be accepted by voters and keep their seat, MPs need to conform to expectations of a “good woman” in dress and behaviour. Women MPs however have worked in politically smart ways, using restrictive gender norms strategically to achieve rights and benefits for other women.
  • Women MPs made the case for a new Divorce, Marriage and Family Relations Act (2015) by appealing to male MPs as fathers, stressing the dangers of child marriage to girls. At the same time they did not draw attention to some of the more controversial provisions in the bill, such as those relating to marriage by repute, custody of children and marital rape.
  • Most Malawians have socially conservative views about women and gender relations. However, around half of the women MPs said they share domestic responsibilities, such as childcare and cooking, equally with their husband – showing the importance to women’s leadership of both women and men being prepared to challenge gender stereotypes.
  • In Afghanistan, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, women activists and international actors lobbied for the law (2013) on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which criminalised violence against women for the first time.

As the week of International Women’s Day draws to a close,  this report is a timely reminder of the gender based work still to be done and the power based progress still to be made in many countries around the world.

Celebrating #IWD2016

Celebrating #IWD2016

International Women’s Day is a global day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and this year’s theme – #PledgeforParity – focuses on what can be done to increase and improve the pace of change. As the IWD site reminds us, we do indeed have much to celebrate today. But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places and UN Women are using IWD to launch their Planet 50/50 by 2030 campaign.

Here in the UK, these graphics from the Fawcett Society serve as a timely reminder of how long, based on the current rate of progress, it will take to close the gender pay gap, improve women’s access to greater pension parity at retirement and have increased participation in certain job roles.

And, instead of speeding up progress, we actually seem to be slowing down:

“The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133. So how do we want to celebrate International Women’s Day 2016? We say by Pledging For Parity! Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.”

(Source: IWD website)

So here are some resources that we can all use to make our own #PledgeforParity, as we all have a part to play when it comes to increasing the pace of change and progressing towards a more gender balanced world by 2030.

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I wrote last week about observing that L’Occitane are supporting women workers in Burkina Faso by donating the proceeds from one of their products to local NGOs. Perhaps, along with the commercial associations which are now part and parcel of supporting causes like breast cancer awareness, we are starting to see more companies supporting women through this type of model? At the weekend, I saw an editorial reference in my Sunday paper to an online dress boutique which is supporting domestic violence charity Refuge:

“Online frock mecca Little Black Dress has joined forces with charity Refuge, which helps women all over the country deal with domestic abuse. LBD has a range of gorgeous frocks and for every sale they will donate £1 to Refuge.”

The dresses in question seem to sell for around £100+ each, so to my mind, donating a quid isn’t overwhelmingly generous. However, perhaps they are a really high volume operation and sell hundreds of thousands of frocks each year, in which case, great; this £1-per-dress donation could make a real difference to the charity’s bottom line. Let’s hope so.

I also spotted, whilst on a recent trip to Sainsbury’s, that Taylors of Harrogate are doing their bit to support female coffee co-operative workers in Peru. They have launched a new ground coffee called Esperanza (after a female Peruvian coffee expert and the central Peruvian co-operative’s leader) and are working with a local NGO, Twin Trading. Taylor’s support will go:

“… towards interest-free microloans for women’s healthcare – hiring a doctor to visit and perform expensive, comprehensive procedures like haemoglobin checks, which can help to identify a range of conditions. The hope is that this will help to attract more women to join the committee and to become more active, in turn making it even stronger.

This premium is additional to the Fairtrade premium, which CAC Pangoa receives for all its Fairtrade coffee and cocoa since it became certified in 1999, and has helped to fund a raft of projects improving community healthcare, education and coffee tree replanting. Our Esperanza coffee is not going to fix the worldwide gender gap – but we hope it will be one more string to the bow of an inspiring coffee cooperative, and an equally inspiring woman who is leading the way for positive change.”

IWD 2016_Taylors Coffee picWhat a great idea. I bought two bags and I hope you’ll also check it out if you happen to see the coffee wherever you do your grocery shopping.

Happy International Women’s Day!

#Gender stuff that’s caught my eye this week

#Gender stuff that’s caught my eye this week

Here’s my semi-regular round up of gender related news items which have caught my attention of late.

Firstly,  we seem to have moved into a time when we now monetise International Women’s Day (which falls next week, Tuesday 8th March – how will you mark it?) – somewhat ironic,  given its origins in communist states such as Russia and China, no? I saw in The Observer that L’Occitane have launched this £4 pot of Ultra Soft Balm; they’re donating all profits to women’s projects in Burkina Faso – this, from their website:

L’OCCITANE has been working with the women of Burkina Faso for over 30 years to produce the shea butter used in our award-winning product collections. What started as a partnership with just 12 local women has now developed into an enterprise with over 17,000 women who produce the exceptionally versatile ingredient that both nourishes and protects the skin, even in extreme conditions.

Malala and her mother_Feb 16I was also interested to read a very rare interview with Pakistani schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai’s mother, Toor Pekai – aged 44 and usually in the shadows when it comes  to press coverage about her daughter; even the recent film about Malala’s life and experiences focused on her father, with its title [my emphasis] HE Named Me Malala. But now Toor Pekai shares how she is learning to read and write and explains that Malala nags her to do her homework.

“If I get poor marks, she says to try harder.”

Still on Pakistan, Nicholas Kristof  used a recent New York Times column to write about his Pakistani friend, a former Taliban supporter who now risks his life condemning the Taliban and standing up for women’s rights. His journey is about the power of education — but with a caveat, for what matters is not any education, but the right kind. The article touches on how he evolved from pro-Taliban and anti-American to a voice for moderation and the empowerment of girls. He also has something to say about how Americans like Donald Trump inadvertently help the extremists.

“The most effective opponents of Muslim extremists are the many Muslim moderates whom we in the media often ignore.”

Three of my favourite things are anything which celebrates the achievements of women; fashion; and social history. On that basis, an exhibition which focuses on all three of those activities is very high up on my “Yes, please!” list. Last year, just such an event, Fashion on the Ration_cover“Fashion on the Ration”, was held at the Imperial War Museum in London and I spent half of my birthday wandering around it, looking at the various clothes and artefacts made, worn and modified by women during the Second World War. The exhibition has now closed,  but the Julie Summers’ book which supported it is still available and is a very interesting read (better in the analogue book form than the digital though,  as it’s got great illustrations). A similar exhibition, “Fashion and Freedom” focuses on women in the First World War and is due to open on May 13th at the  Manchester Art Gallery. It sounds fascinating – this link shows some of the photos and gives more details.

Back in the present day, a group of women in California have launched a project they’re calling The Elephant in the Valley – a safe and anonymous forum in which women can tell their stories about gender discrimination and bias in Silicon Valley.  Their hope is that sharing stories “will lead to the type of change that will make Silicon Valley a place of even greater innovation by making it a place of greater equality.”

And Accenture have released some new research in which they suggest that ‘digital fluency’ may be the key to improving workplace gender parity;  if we double the rate at which women become digitally fluent, defined as “the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective”, developed countries could see workplace gender parity by 2040 – 25 years sooner than the current World Economic Forum estimates.

Finally – who you gonna call? The all-female ‘Ghostbusters‘ reboot released its trailer this week, ahead of the film’s release in July. Nice quote from director Paul Feig:

“I seem to have a very feminine take on the world,” Feig said in a recent interview with The Mary Sue. “It is just who I am. I get sent scripts all the time, and when it’s a typical male character who has things together but is faced with a problem, I zone out. I just get completely uninterested. I’ve realized after years of watching movies, I’ve tired of the problems of men. I’m tired of seeing it portrayed.”

Next week, I’ll be blogging about International Women’s Day, women and power and talking to another awesome woman as part of my continuing #PowerofThree series of profiles. I welcome suggestions for interviewees for this series – please contact me if you’d like to bounce around some names.

 

Does the #genderpaygap start at pocket money time?

Does the #genderpaygap start at pocket money time?

To continue a gender pay gap shaped theme, here is a re-blog of a great article written by Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris of The InclusIQ Institute and republished here with her kind permission. (I’ve long been a fan of her work and her first book, Beyond the Boys’ Club, is listed on my recommended reading  page.)

Once you’ve read Suzanne’s article, keep scrolling down to see a joyous piece of film footage from 106 year old Virginia McLaurin.

We all like to think the gender pay gap is a workplace issue, but it seems gender based discrepancies start much younger. The Sunday Times commissioned their own research (£ for the full article) discovering that even the best intentioned of parents are paying sons more, £11.47 on average per week for 14 year olds, compared to £10.67 for their daughters of the same age for pocket money. It may initially sound relatively minor for children, but just like the pay gap amongst adults, it soon adds up. Those few pence every week total an £80 difference each year. However, it’s not just teens who are affected. Other research by the Halifax discovered boys aged 8-11 get £5.06 per week in pocket money compared to their sisters’ £4.85.

And these discrepancies are vital, as they impact how children relate to money. Various studies show the giving of an allowance or pocket money increases ‘monetary competence’. In tests, children with monetary competence spent less when given ‘credit’ and were more accurate in guessing the prices of familiar items. These are undeniably important lessons for any child to learn. It makes us at InclusIQ  wonder: ‘What are the messages we send by giving girls less’? Are we subconsciously preparing daughters for a lifetime of ‘making do’ with less money; a reality which eventually leads to higher rates of poverty amongst female pensioners?

Gender Pay Gap_he said she said

No doubt parents aim to be fair between their own children of either gender. However, this inexplicable discrepancy remains. It reminds us of the differences we see at organisations that are sure they pay people equally and based on merit. However, when we help them look at their internal figures, the evidence doesn’t quite tell the same story – particularly when it comes to discretionary pay. Internally managers always cite seemingly plausible excuses why these differences remain. However, rather than spend time on the creating excuses, we should be creating a fairer world for our current and certainly future workforce. That clearly starts with pocket money.

The Feel Good Story of the Week (other than Adele winning All the Brits) was about a dancing 106 year old from South Carolina. As she and her parents picked cotton and shucked corn in the fields, it never occurred to the young Virginia McLaurin that she might one day eat in the same restaurants as white people. And the notion that she would live to see the country elect a black president, and that one day she’d be invited to the White House and clasp his hands and dance with him for all the world to see? Impossible. And yet it happened — and was captured in a video released by the White House of McLaurin meeting the Obamas during a Black History Month celebration last week.

The Washington Post describes the moment Virginia got to see the footage of herself (complete with blue nails) dancing with the Obamas:

Then finally, deep into the afternoon on Monday, McLaurin got to watch the moment that had made her famous. Her eyes were fixed on the iPhone in her lap, as she sat in a backroom of Busboys and Poets restaurant near U Street —  in front of a mural of civil rights icons. Her mouth dropped open: There she was, dancing with her beloved president. She seemed almost as amazed by the technology that was allowing her to relive it all.

“Where can I get one of these?” she asked about the smartphone video. “I wish this was mine.”

For a few hours over lunch, she reflected on her life and those precious few minutes she had fulfilling a dream she didn’t even know to entertain until 2008.

 

Here’s the film footage. Just wonderful.

Mind the Gap: Explaining the UK #GenderPayGap

Mind the Gap: Explaining the UK #GenderPayGap

Gender pay gap_coin stackAs part of my continuing look at the gender pay gap, here is a sponsored article from employment law specialists Nationwide Employment Lawyers , who share an overview of the reasons behind the UK gender pay gap and the recently announced plans to challenge it.

* * * *

For years, the imbalance of pay between men and women has been a serious, but often ignored, employment issue. Finding ways to correct the difference is a discussion which encompasses wider forms of the employment disadvantage facing women.

The history of the gender pay gap

In 1970, the Equal Pay Act was legislated so that women would receive equivalent pay to men on condition that they perform the same job for the same employer. However, several loopholes have allowed employers to avoid accusations of unequal payment. This includes legal requirements that allow an employer’s payroll to be the only acceptable source of information for supporting claims of unfair payment.

This same data is also considered the only viable means of determining whether certain kinds of work was performed by women at all, allowing employers to allege that assistance from male employees has occurred, thus rendering female workers’ claims void.

Needless to say, access to such data has resulted in employers generally showing greater concern for their own interests, often refusing to reveal certain information in accordance with their legal rights. Furthermore, employers were (until recently) under no obligation to monitor the difference in pay between male and female employees, effectively allowing them to ignore the possibility of equal pay being denied to workers.

Pay discrimination can be obvious if men are directly paid less than women without excuse, but underpayment is often hidden through crafty guises like different job titles and/or descriptions for female employees.

Although women can bring their concerns before an employment tribunal, the tribunal payment change of 2013, which now calls for all claimants to shoulder the majority of fees themselves, has led to a decrease in such cases due to financial concerns. This has certainly led to many women being failed by the UK legal system.

How the pay gap is recorded

The pay gap is often dismissed as exaggerated or even a fabrication, but research by the Quarterly Reports of tribunal records found that 12% of all tribunal cases launched between 2012/13 involved claims of unequal pay, wholly nullifying any notion of falsehood.

Gender pay gap statistics are generated through comparisons of the opposing average hourly rates between male and female employees. The national population and all UK employment sectors are taken into account when determining this figure.

One common excuse for the pay gap is that greater numbers of women are working part-time, which makes for lower overall female earnings. However, this ignores the fact that official figures monitored by the Office for National Statistics do not take into account part-time wages when recording results for the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. These figures focus solely on the mean average full-time wage between genders, which takes into account the pay of higher earning employees to generate an accurate and fair overall sum.

Negative affects on women

Recent UK studies reveal that the pay gap harms women by affecting their lives in various ways:

  • Mothers are affected by the pay gap as less finances are available to support children, especially single mothers or those without a partner in employment. The result of this can be physical and/or mental exhaustion due to longer hours being required to compensate;
  • Maternity and pregnancy discrimination is interwoven with the pay gap, as the level of full-time pay for maternity leave is being increasingly reduced. This has been defended on the grounds that it seeks to support women wanting less maternity leave, but it is increasingly seen as being forced on all women. This is a huge contrast to men who can now receive financial support for undertaking shared parental duties.

Occupational segregation

One area of concern is the effect of occupational segregation, which involves unfair treatment of gender based roles. Men are paid greater amounts in jobs where they mostly work with other men, while women are paid less in roles where they work mostly alongside other women.

The single gender assessment of certain kinds of work is known as horizontal segregation. Stereotypical ‘horizontal’ roles for women include manual catering or cleaning work, and basic cashier and retail roles. This restricts female achievement and contributes to archaic attitudes to gender that regard female roles as somehow less valuable than men’s.

The opposite of this is vertical segregation where women work in positions alongside men –  but find opportunities for reaching greater positions restricted, due to gender related constraints causing them to be under-represented in high-paying occupations, adding to pay-gap statistics. It is necessary to abolish attitudes associated with both forms of occupational segregation in the quest to make pay equal.

Steps to solving the gender pay gap

 One way UK employment law is helping reduce the pay gap is by altering the law: as of 26th March 2016, businesses with a staff of 250+ employees will have to release information on the pay and bonus differences between their male and female workers.

All concerns outlined here, along with many others, need to be addressed and rectified before female employees and those close to them are free from the pay gap harm they experience.

Learn about how employment solicitors can help gender issues in the workplace.

 

 

 

 

This is a sponsored post from Nationwide Employment Lawyers . If you’d like to discuss how the Gender Blog can help support your business, please contact me