Womenomics: The theory that women play a primary role in economic growth

by Julian Westaby. 0 Comments

We were delighted our March guest Professor Lesley Sawers was able to take time out of a busy schedule to share with us the findings of a report she undertook for the UK Government Scotland Office – ‘The Sawers Review 2015’. The report set out a clear action plan and set of recommendations to help achieve goals in relation to women’s contribution to the economy. Including identifying specific areas linked to measurement, mentoring and mainstreaming. Many of the reports recommendations have already been implemented by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Lesley’s presentation focussed on the increasing recognition that we need to change attitudes, culture and workplace practices if we are to unlock the full economic potential of 51% of Scotland’s population. We heard evidence that:

  • Globally it will take 118 years to achieve pay parity for men and women
  • Estimates suggest that advancing women’s equality worldwide would add $12 trillion to global growth
  • Scotland’s gender pay gap averages 17.5% – in some sectors its 40%
  • In Scotland men are twice as likely to start their own business, an opportunity cost to the economy of £13bn
  • Of Scottish based FTSE 100 companies, only 25% of Board positions are held by women
  • Women comprise only 2% of engineers in Modern Apprenticeship training, less than 3% of chartered engineers in Scotland are female
  • 55% of students in Higher Education are female
  • Aging female workforce with growing care responsibilities, concentrated in low growth or declining industry sectors

Lesley explained that through research, think tanks and survey’s they identified what the issues were. This meant that real actions to support women into business could be established. These included:

  • Mentoring and support
  • Measure, spend versus return
  • More role models available
  • Help build confidence for individuals
  • Better access to business support
  • Understand what help is available /needed locally within communities i.e. child care and mentoring
  • Better sharing of goals and geographically share information
  • Get business groups working together
  • Establish a national equalities plan

It’s great to see a report that actually does something and Lesley was delighted to share a number of recommendations already moving ahead:

  • Ministerial group now established and working on improving                                   coordination and sharing of activities and resources
  • Groups now working together to identify shared goals and objectives linked to pay gaps, talent pipeline, board positions, aging workforce etc. – with shared ACTION PLANS to deliver
  • Mandatory Pay Gap reporting announced
  • Family friendly guidelines published by Scottish Government
  • Public board gender targets set in Scotland
  • Gender budgeting at centre of Government spending reviews

The presentation was a great insight into the potential for the Scottish and UK economies and clearly a move from being a women’s issue or problem to one of economic potential and growth.

Lesley has been a successful and active participant in the Scottish economy for over 40 years, including CEO of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and of SCDI, as well as holding a number of Non Executive appointments. She recently stepped down from her role as a Vice Principal at Glasgow Caledonian University to become

Executive Chair of GenAnalytics© Ltd, a specialist analytical and market insights consultancy focused on the area of business performance improvement linked to gender, LGBT and equalities in the workplace. GenAnalytics© is pioneering the application of data analytics in the area of equalities, business performance and human capital asset management.

It was great to hear from Lesley and we would welcome her back in the future to update us on progress within this area. Download the Sawers Review

Lesley.sawers@genanalytics.co.uk @ProfLesleyS

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