Business

Why we must respect and value all roles

Everyone is shocked that a gender pay gaps exist. But how will it change?

I DO try within this column to stick to business and not always focus on women, but I really can't in all consciousness let the recent discussions on the gender pay gap go past without comment.

:: First why is everyone so shocked that gender pay gaps exist?

:: Second, although highlighted and everyone is suitably outraged, what has changed, what will change, and will it change?

:: Third, this problem and its solution cannot be found by any single group - employers, government, men or women - because we ALL need to work together to get a society that is truly equal.

Women are effectively being penalised for having children! Women and men are being shunned for staying at home to look after them. Do we not value the creation of the next generation?

Certainly within the business community they are very valuable. Businesses all want to attract them to their sector, engaging with them early, even when they are still at school. For Invest NI, our next generation are the biggest selling point for foreign direct investment, a current economic success story for the region.

So why when they are so important do we actually penalise those who create and those who nurture? We seriously need to re-think what we value in society. We need to support women and men to reach their full potential in whatever path they take, but more so women as recent media has highlighted.

At Women in Business we want to grow the Northern Ireland economy through inclusive growth. We do this by networking, training and inspiring women. They will gain peer support from the network and gain a stronger voice, one that will expect equal pay. So on this occasion I will sell the network and ask men and women to join, to show your support of what we do and to avail of our services.

For only £35 per year, we offer members the opportunity to network with their peers, up-skill and extend their knowledge base, while inspiring women to strive to reach their full potential.

As an organisation we strive to reach women across Northern Ireland and this commitment is reflected in our extensive regional networking events; our master-class series and monthly 'Spotlight on Success' series. We host more than 70 events a year and connect over 2,5000 business leaders and entrepreneurs – so with so much on offer, it's a unique opportunity to profile yourself and your business.

Looking forward, we are on the countdown to launch the Northern Ireland wide Gender Diversity Charter Mark at the Chairs Lunch on September 14. I'm excited and optimistic about what lies ahead and would urge local businesses to sign up to the Charter, not only will you be tackling the institutional barriers facing women, but there is no denying that a balanced workforce is good for business.

:: Roseann Kelly (roseann@ womeninbusinessni.com) is chief executive of Women in Business (www.womeninbusinessni.com), the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and senior women in management in Northern Ireland, with 2,500 members spread throughout all industry sectors. Follow Women in Business NI on Facebook at www.facebook.com/women-inbusinessni or on Twitter @wibni.

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