Lancaster University Management School - 54 Degrees Issue 9

women are 20% less likely to perceive they have equal opportunity to advance compared to men. Thesefindings indicate the need to examine how organisational cultures and systems, including recruitment and reward processes, can prevent advancement. THECHALLENGEOFMANAGINGTHE PERSONALANDTHEPROFESSIONAL Family responsibilities affect perceptions of women andmen differently, and this in turn has an impact on behaviours. For instance, data shows that many businesses still feel it is reasonable to question women about their family and family plans during the recruitment process. This challenge therefore brings to light a practicepolicy gap, where well-intentioned policy fails to be realised in practice. The practice-policy gap is evidenced by the minimal take-up of the shared parental leave policy in 2014. Poor take-up by menmay, in part, be explained by perceptions that having a family will mean less commitment to work, a perception that could affect the chances of career progression. An example in the UKfinancial services sector, is where a strong culture of presenteeism risks mitigating the impact offlexible working practices. Gaps between practice and policy in turn increase the difficulty of managing the personal and the professional. The impact of family responsibilities has come more into focus during the Covid19 pandemic. The task of having to manage caring for others with no or little access to external help has shed light on how norms of working long hours disadvantage some more than others. Illuminating these issues offers organisations a unique opportunity to appraise their working practices and the culture that they generate. Looking at the three challenges together, reveals two important issues: how the challenges interconnect to reinforce inequalities; and how the challenges are shaped by continuing stereotypes of men’s and women's roles in society. Women's continued underrepresentation in senior roles helps us understand the persistence of the gender pay gap. Women's progression slows at middlemanager level, typically at an age where women andmen have family responsibilities. Perceptions that women are less committed to work than men on becoming a parent reinforces stereotypes of women as primary caregivers. Such perceptions can influence the extent to which women are seen as suitable for certain roles, and so maintain status and pay gaps. The challenges, underpinned by enduring stereotypes, can fuel behaviours and practices that affect the take-up of wellintentioned policy. By failing to take into account gendered social assumptions, policy can prove ineffective, leading to a practice-policy gap that adds to the stubborn persistence of gender inequalities at work. The Covid-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus the gendered assumptions on which we base our everyday behaviours and routines, and how they can reinforce the gender equality challenges we identify in our brochure. This presents us with the perfect opportunity to re-examine how we can move forward to develop more inclusive and equitable organisations that will make the most of all employees’ talent. Professor Valerie Stead is Director of theAcademy for Gender, Work and Leadership. Find out more in the Gender Matters online feature, and hear podcast discussions involving Professor Valerie Stead; Work Foundation Director Ben Harrison; Ann Francke, OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute; and Julia Hoggett, Director of Market Oversight, Financial Conduct Authority. FIFTY FOURDEGREES | 33 Gender Pay gap (%) Women Financial institution managers and directors Men £’s per hour 0 10 20 30 40 50 33% The Gender Pay Gap at Executive Level A significant pay gap despite women holding 42%of executive roles. Source:OfficeforNationalStatistics(2019).