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Achieving gender equality in Wales

31 March 2021

Professionals from Wales’ leading gender equality charity and Wales’ leading Homelessness Charity led the latest in Cardiff Business School’s Breakfast Briefing Series to mark International Women’s Day 2021.

Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive of Chwarae Teg, got the session underway by outlining the three areas of focus for Chwarae Teg:

  • women in economy
  • women at risk
  • women represented.

She said: “These principles provide an understanding of inequality across the breadth of our economy and society. They are all interconnected.

“So, for example, women's position in the labour market leaves them at greater risk of abuse, certainly of financial hardship, of poverty and social isolation. Violence and harassment of women and girls too, is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality.

“If we don’t take action across all three areas, we won’t make progress, she concluded.”

State of the Nation

Cerys went on to describe how a fairer Wales, where all women can achieve and prosper, is also central to achieving gender equality. She explained how this involves taking an intersectional approach to our work and our actions.

Chwarae Teg’s annual State of the Nation report reflects on Wales’ performance in this area by measuring progress against a range of key indicators relating to gender equality.

Last year, the organisation also commissioned research specifically relating to women’s experiences during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“While there was no singular female experience,” said Cerys. “Nevertheless women do seem to share some common experiences and concerns.

“For example, we know that lockdown has deeply affected women's health, their employment experience, their caring responsibilities, both for children and adults. What this tells us is that gender-blind policymaking does still happen, detrimentally affects women and is one area where we need to take action.”

Cerys drew her presentation to a close by outlining the ways in which individuals and organisations can make a difference.

As individuals, Cerys explained that we can:

  • Call out unfair practices
  • Reflect on the inclusivity of our organistational teams and culture
  • Make improvements to our recruitment and selection processes.

And as organisations, Cerys advocated for:

  • Publishing our data
  • Reflecting on the inequality that exists in our workplaces
  • Seeking specialist support to address problems
  • Setting targets and taking positive action.

Chwarae Teg supports individuals and organisations to implement change in this way through their Agile Nation2 programmes for business and career development, as well as their FairPlay Employer Award.

Louise David, Fundraising Manager at Llamau, followed Cerys presentation by focusing in on one of the outcomes of gender inequality – domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse is a really difficult topic to speak about,” she said. “It’s a really difficult topic to broach with others too. But hopefully we can give you some hints and tips today, to demystify some of that.”

Louise explained that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of any protected characteristics. However, she stressed that women are primarily affected. Statistics show that one in three women in Wales will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

This means that if an organisation employs 500 women, it’s likely that around 166 of them will have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

Louise took this opportunity to share a video recounting the experiences of ‘Natasha’, a woman supported by Llamau who took the brave and terrifying decision to leave an abusive home.

Reflecting on Natasha’s story, Louise added: “What’s fascinating about domestic abuse is that there's no demographic of women that this happens to. So, poverty isn’t an indicator, nor are employment status or level of employment. It can happen to anyone.”

Louise outlined how domestic abuse affects employers through financial costs related to absence, engagement, sickness and retention. She explained how there is a common misconception that abuse only occurs at home, while in fact women are often targeted at work. This can lead to implications for colleague welfare as they might find themselves involved in abuse situations, resulting in risk to their safety and wellbeing.

Louise concluded her presentation by outlining ways in which individuals and employers can help, by:

  • creating spaces where individuals can talk, listen and believe
  • ensuring your organisation has a domestic abuse policy
  • empowering staff to feel confident to support their colleagues.

A question and answer session followed Cerys and Louise’s presentations.

Cardiff Business School's Breakfast Briefing Series is a network of events which enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

Following lockdown measures, implemented by Welsh Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the School’s Executive Education Team has moved the series online.

If you were unable to attend, watch this recording of the event.

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