The 8th March 2024 is International Women’s Day, which calls attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights and discrimination against women.

This year, the focus is on Investing in Women to accelerate progress, something we are hugely passionate about at Good Energy. Here are five ways in which we are investing in our women, and in our men, to achieve gender equity.

1. We’re focusing hard on our gender pay gap

In 2023, the UK average gender pay gap between men and women was 14.3%. That means that on average, men were paid 14.3% higher than women per hour of work.

Gender pay gaps can exist for several reasons, including:

  • Men and women doing the same job at the same grade are paid differently due to bias when hiring or when awarding pay rises (this is illegal under Equal Pay legislation).
  • There are more men employed in higher grade roles, and more women in lower grade roles.
  • Some teams might attract a higher than average salary, such as technology or finance. If you have fewer women than men in these teams, your average pay gap gets larger.
  • Your executive board might be predominantly male, and you might have a male CEO.

At Good Energy, we pay men and women equally for working roles of similar scopes and sizes. We have a gender pay gap as we don’t have enough women in executive and senior management roles at the moment – our highest pay quartile is 29% women and 71% men – with only 1 woman at director level.

We’re actively working to improve this by supporting women to join and stay with Good Energy, and develop their careers using the policies explored in the rest of this article. Within our ‘Head of Department’ roles, we have increased the percentage of women from 10% in 2021 to 37% in 2023, which will provide a great pipeline of talent to one day promote to director level.

And out of 115 promotions in the last year, 56.5% were women. This equates to 25% of women and 19% of men promoted across our total business in the last year.

2. We make flexible working available to all

44% of working adults have caring responsibilities, whether that’s for children, working age adults or aging relatives. But women are the ones doing the majority of this day-to-day care.

Flexible working, both formal and informal, is a crucial way to promote equity between men and women – and it’s been shown to improve productivity too. If both partners can access flexible working, they can make caregiving and home making decisions that work for them. For example, both parents could work reduced hours to spend more time with their children and reduce the financial burden of childcare, or feel trusted to log back and complete their responsibilities following a school run.

At Good Energy, we promote flexible working to all our employees. Most of our people across the business – including our executive board, work within our hybrid model – a mix of home and office working (with just one day a week, month or quarter spent in the office). This flexibility makes a hugely beneficial impact on our people’s lives, which are reflected in our staff retention rates.

“In a typical week, I work from home four days out of five. That means I am there to take my children to school, to give them a hug when they get home, and find out how their days have gone. These moments, although small, are hugely important, and they have been made possible through working flexibly for an understanding & progressive employer. ”

3. We offer enhanced maternity, paternity and shared parental leave

65% of businesses now provide some level of enhanced maternity pay, but only 25% offer enhanced shared parental leave.

A core thing that businesses can do to promote gender equity is to make maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave make financial sense to families – as well as being easy to access.

The benefits of enhanced parental leave include:

  • Attracting new candidates  
  • Making employees feel valued, therefore improving retention, job satisfaction and performance.
  • Taking the pressure off working parents, reducing stress and mental health strain.
  • Reducing the ‘motherhood penalty’ by making it more cost effective to choose to return to work afterwards. 

What does shared parental leave have to do with equity?
Shared parental leave (SPL) is a policy that enables both parents to have time at home within the first year of a child being born or adopted.

Around 98% of couples are not using SPL, many because they are unaware of the right, but also because loss of earnings from the main breadwinner makes it financially impossible. What’s more, it can be complicated to apply for, and many businesses may lack the in-house expertise to support an application.

At Good Energy, we offer up to 16 weeks full pay followed by 16 weeks half pay for maternity, adoption and shared parental leave. We actively promote shared parental leave and support our people with their applications. What’s more, we offer 4 weeks of paid leave for paternity to support mums and dads during the hugely important first month of a child’s life.

“Taking 12 weeks away from work to spend with my daughter made a huge difference to my confidence as a parent. It dramatically reduced the burden on my wife and allowed her to return to work with peace of mind. Shared parental leave has led to much greater equality in how we parent and reduced the mental load for my wife too.”

4. We invest in our female talent

Women make up only 4% of CEOs and 26% of FTSE350 executives. Women in management roles drops by 32% after having children, and 11% leave the workforce entirely – despite 98% wanting to work.

Employers have an important role to play in retaining and investing in their female talent. According to the Career After Babies report, organisations that want to fix their gender pay gaps should “focus on succession plans and talent development of women in their business” as well as offering flexibility.

Hiring women directly into senior roles, especially in technology, is an ongoing challenge due to the higher proportion of men within this market. We are constantly developing our strategy for developing our female talent, with the ultimate goal of having an equal representation of men and women within senior management and executive roles.

Here are some of the actions we are taking:

Recruitment practices: Our candidate shortlists are gender balanced wherever possible. We advertise new roles on platforms designed to encourage women to apply, and work hard to make sure the language we use in job descriptions is inclusive.

Return to work coaching: We offer three funded coaching sessions to help primary care givers back into work after parental leave. We’ve found that coaching sessions can boost confidence around returning to work and empower people to ask for what they need to navigate this tricky transition. 91% of our women return to work at Good Energy following maternity or adoption leave.

Good Careers Programme: We have an early career development programme open to everyone in our lower grades, which has resulted in 50% of the female participants being promoted.

1:1 Executive coaching: We provide executive coaching to managers wanting to make the next step in their careers. Two women that have undertaken the coaching so far have been promoted into ‘Head of Department’ roles, bringing the percentage of females in this group to 37% (compared with 10% only two years ago).

“I had four one to one executive coaching sessions, with the main aim being to help me to grow as a leader and to understand how to set strategic direction for my colleagues. Shortly after completing the coaching, I was able to apply for my current role.”

5. We support female health and wellbeing

Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, with one in four in this group considering leaving their jobs due to their symptoms.

Menopause is something that will happen directly to approximately 50% of the population. The average age to start menopause is 45-55, but it can start decades earlier. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, hot flushes and depression; with 25% of women experiencing severe symptoms. Similar hormonal changes and associated symptoms can be felt by people going through gender reassignment.

At Good Energy, we are committed to supporting our people to stay within work. We have a menopause support hub, signposting our people to useful resources, and we have made training sessions available for all of our people too.

What’s more, we have a qualified team of mental health first aiders who run an active programme of awareness building events as well as offering personal guidance and support to other staff. All our staff have free access tothe Headspace app, as well as counselling services and online GP appointments.

“Menopause can be physically and mentally extremely challenging. It’s important that workplaces offer practical support to those who need it helping retain skilled women in the workforce.”