New figures reveal senior civil servant gender divide

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According to the 2017 States Accounts, 63% of the States workforce and 63.7% of workers not at senior level in management roles are female. However, female senior managers account for just 33.1% of the total, and 86.7% of directors are men. The figures remained largely static last year when compared to 2016, with the only real change a drop of around seven per cent in the number of female senior managers.

As of December last year the States employed a total of 6,754 members of staff, 15 of those were classed as management and 118 senior staff. A breakdown shows there are 79 male senior managers compared to 39 female. Meanwhile there were fewer then 20 male and fewer than ten female directors.

One of the Island’s newest – and youngest – female politicians, Deputy Jess Perchard, said the figures show that although progress was being made there were some important issues around gender diversity to be addressed, in the States and more widely.

And she says that introducing a requirement for large companies to report their gender pay gap data annually, as was introduced in the UK earlier this year, would be an important step in working towards equality in the workplace.

The founders of The Diversity Network – Jersey have also called on the States to do more to achieve equality, and stressed it was an issue for everyone, not just women.

And Deputy Louise Doublet, who led the States’ work on diversity in the last political term, called on the States Employment Board to carry out a piece of work looking into the issue.

Earlier this year a response to a States question from Deputy Doublet revealed that of the 11 highest-paid civil servants earning more than £150,000 just one was a woman.

Deputy Perchard said: ‘I believe that we are making progress towards a more equal society, but that there are still some fundamental – quite patriarchal – structures that prevent women from gaining true equality in the workforce,’ she said.

‘We absolutely must have gender pay gap reporting. How else will we know if there is gender equality within the workforce? Deputy Doublet has made a start on this work, and I look forward to pursuing this further alongside her.’

She added: ‘The problem we face is that there are so many misconceptions, stereotypes and societal structures that work against women – and we haven’t even started talking about ethnic minority groups or sexuality, both of which, when combined with being female, result in greater oppression.

‘It’s an overwhelming task, and one which will need a much greater understanding and acceptance of the prejudices woven into the fabric of our society before it is truly resolved.’

Tracy Garrad, chief executive of HSBC Channel Islands and Isle of Man, said the percentage of women in more senior roles within the States was not surprising and was reflective of the make-up of private sector organisations in the UK.

However, she does not believe making organisations report their gender pay gap would be informative, as she says it is widely known there are more women in junior roles compared to men and that they are more likely to be in part-time roles and therefore paid less.

Instead she says more ‘purposeful action’ should be taken to improve the balance, such as employers giving women mentors to encourage them to apply for more senior roles. She also believes a societal shift needs to take place so that stay-at-home fathers are no longer seen as a rarity.

Mrs Garrad said: ‘I’m increasingly of the opinion that if we don’t see a more significant shift in the near future we might need to consider – as a temporary measure – introducing quotas to boards to get us to a critical mass, so that it is the norm and then no longer required.’

Meanwhile, in an interview published on page 6 today, former Deputy Anne Pryke, who served as both Health and Housing minister, said that Jersey politics could sometimes feel like a ‘boys’ club’ in which it can be ‘hard work’ to enact change on diversity. She also said that the Council of Ministers needed more women.

And Kate Wright, co-founder of The Diversity Network – Jersey and member of Women in Politics, which worked before the election to help more women stand for the States, said: ‘This isn’t just about fairness and having an equal playing field, although these are clearly important. It’s about greater diversity in senior management positions, leading to better decision-making and outcomes. For an employer of the size and significance of the States this is crucial.’

She added: ‘Equality doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve. There are lots of ways in which a business can attract, develop and retain a pipeline of talented women. The most important first step is to make sure this is firmly positioned as a business issue and not just a women’s issue.’

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