Leader Views


Posted on:
7th March, 2020

Maximising the potential of women in the workforce

The York & North Yorkshire LEP believes that businesses across the region are becoming increasingly aware of and committed to addressing issues around gender pay gaps. For International Women’s Day 2020, Sam Alexander, Chair of the Skills and Employability Board and Diversity Champion for the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, shared the LEP's strategy to maximise the potential of Women in the Workforce.

Maximising the potential of women in the workforce

“As a Local Enterprise Partnership, our remit is to take a regional view of the workforce and build capacity for change at a local level. As a region, we face significant challenge relating to a gender pay gap and occupational “segregation”, which means that women are concentrated in occupations with poorer prospects and in low-paid part-time work. Our recent Labour Market Analysis report showed that our LEP area faces a gender pay gap that is broadly similar to the national picture.  The overall pay gap for all employee jobs locally is 17%, slightly below the national average of around 19%. 

The size of this gap partly reflects the fact that women are more likely to work in part-time roles which attract a lower hourly rate of pay.  At 8% the gap for full-time jobs is smaller but still substantial.  It is slightly lower than the national average.

"There is marked gender segregation with regard to the profile of occupational employment of men and women. For example, the vast majority of corporate managers, STEM professionals, agricultural workers, workers in construction trades and process and transport operatives are male. Female employment is dominant in health professional, teaching professional, administrative, caring personal service and sales occupations, which are frequently paid less well.

“To tackle this disparity, the LEP have a number of strategies that specifically focus on maximising the potential of women in the workforce. The skills system needs to address this challenge more effectively. For example, apprenticeships and higher education reinforce patterns of gender segregation. Countering the stereotypes held by young people should be a major priority for local careers information, advice and guidance and is supported by our Careers Hub.

“Our workforce skills strategy aims to tackle the challenge of gender pay-gap and segregation across a series of under-pinning objectives which look broadly at challenges we face as a region, relating to our rurality, strengthening of leadership and management, career pathways and investing in skills – particularly technical and STEM skills.

“An ESF funded, Women in the Workforce programme will launch in 2020 to support our aspirations for women and redress the balance for women to prosper in the local economy. The programme will offer support to businesses, helping them to carry out a gender pay-gap analysis and action plan based on the results, support women back into work following career breaks to have a family or carry out a caring role, and to tackle gender stereotypes that exist in many workplaces.

“For individuals, the support will focus on developing leadership skills to support women into senior and board level roles, as well as connecting younger women and entre preneurs into wider support networks.

“A further programme will look to build representation of women in digital and STEM industries. All of this activity builds on work we have done over the past 5 years, connecting girls and women with role models in STEM industries in the region.

“There is an intrinsic problem with the level of value we place on different sectors and this is reflected in the way they are paid, but pay is not the only thing affected. Professions that are traditionally seen as female-dominated often require high levels of skills and personal qualities and terming these roles as ‘low-skilled’ is simply inaccurate.

“Though it is important to ensure that people of all genders have the opportunity to do work that is suited to their passions and aspirations, if we are truly want to address the gender pay gap, it is not just by supporting women to secure work in more male-dominated roles, but by changing the value we collectively give to female-dominated sectors.

“There is no quick fix for addressing this issue. However, we believe that businesses across our region are becoming increasingly aware of and committed to addressing issues around gender pay gaps and we can support that change through existing LEP programmes and the more strategic longer-term change that will be brought about through our Local Industrial Strategy.”

Sam Alexander, Chair of the Skills and Employability Board and Diversity Champion for the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Do you believe in a better Yorkshire? Help build one

We are recruiting to our main LEP Board and our Skills and Employability Board. Are you a business leader or skills specialist who can provide challenge and a more diverse perspective to the LEP’s decision making? If yes, we would like to hear from you. Application packs are available HERE.

Closing dates for applications are: Skills and Employability Board   – Sunday 29 March. Main LEP Board  – Sunday 24 May.

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