Over half of women in the UK workforce feel suppressed by their gender

Darren Burns 09.03.2020

Findings from our recent ‘Workplace Gender Equality’ survey reveals that 58% of female professionals across the UK workforce feel their gender has suppressed progression opportunities at some point in their careers.

Understanding global sentiments towards workplace gender equality

We surveyed 2,500 global employees in the lead up to International Women’s Day, with respondents from Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and the UK. Across the UK, 61% of men believe male and female employees are paid equally, yet only 25% of women think salaries are equal. 

Whilst establishing greater gender equality in the workplace has supposedly been a key area of focus over recent years, it seems organisations across the world have still got a way to go. UK based respondents working across Financial Services, Professional Services and Commerce sectors revealed that:

  • 63% of men feel their current employer does enough to ensure gender equality at work, whereas 32% of women felt the same way
  • When interviewing, the gender of the interviewer is irrelevant to success: 75% said the interviewer’s gender doesn’t make a difference to their confidence
  • 33% of female respondents believe they have the same progression opportunities as male colleagues, whilst 71% of men think they are presented with equal opportunities to progress their careers as their female colleagues
  • 61% believe there is more workplace gender equality compared to 5 years ago

Contrasting views of men and women

There is a clear contradiction in opinions of male and female respondents. On a global scale, a significant 54% of women feel their gender has suppressed opportunities to progress in the workplace, whilst the figure for men pales in comparison at a mere 18%. If that’s not quite clear enough, the perceptions of whether respondents think genders are paid equally further highlights how differently men and women feel: 61% of men who responded to our survey think male and female employees are paid equally at their current employer, yet only 28% of women think salaries are equal.

The consistent rift in opinions here signifies just how differently men and women perceive gender equality. How can we ever solve an issue that involves different parties if one side does not believe there is a problem, or only sees it as a minor issue, while the other side perceives it as a large, continuing problem?

The picture isn’t great for the UK when compared to other countries

Across the eight locations of Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and the UK, it was found that the UK had the highest percentage (40%) who felt employers don’t do enough to address the gender inequality issue within the workplace. In addition, the UK came joint worst (with Singapore) in terms of perception of whether male and female employees are paid equally at their companies at 34%. 

It seems inequality is not only felt in terms of salaries, but also for the progression opportunities offered to men and women. In Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, and the UK, less than half of respondents feel there are equal opportunities for women and men in their organisation. In only Mainland China (59%) and Singapore (54%), the majority believe female and male employees are on a level playing field for opportunities at work.

More work needs to be done by employers

The route to both achieving gender equality in the workplace, and ensuring those within businesses feel there is a commitment to this, is a deep-rooted issue which is clearly still some way off from being completely rectified. This research suggests companies have progressed, but it’s worrying to learn that there isn’t a level playing field in terms of equal career development opportunities.

Key Findings from Workplace Gender Equality survey

Darren Burns's picture
Operations Director
dburns@morganmckinley.com