Women's Advancement in the Workplace
2 Mar 2016 10:00-11:30
Attlee Suite, Portcullis House
The guest speakers at this meeting were Mrs Maria Miller MP, Chair of the House of Commons Women’s and Equalities Select Committee; and Baroness McGregor-Smith, Chief Executive of Mitie Group plc and Chair of the Women’s Business Council, who were welcomed by APCRG Co-Chair, Baroness Greengross. Baroness Greengross referred to a recent survey which found significant discrimination against women in the workplace. She said that some of this wasted talent is simply down to poor employment practices and that is where responsible companies can help by implementing best practice and sharing it with other companies, including their suppliers. She also pointed out that gender discrimination starts long before people enter work so tackling this effectively requires much broader action. Maria Miller suggested we need to ask why it is that women still do not have the same opportunities as men and spoke about the significant cost women’s relative underemployment represents for the UK, arguing it is essential that we make best use of the talents of all our people the UK is to compete successfully at a global level. Maria also spoke about the work that the Women & Equalities Select Committee is undertaking on these and related issues. Baroness McGregor-Smith described her own background and shared with members the lessons she had learned as her career developed. She emphasised the scope for personal development offered by SMEs, the importance of supportive managers and the business case for non-discriminatory and flexible workplaces. She rejected the case for quotas for women and argued that the success of female entrepreneurs will help change larger, more traditional businesses as they have to become more agile to compete with them.