We all have the potential for success, fulfilment and greatness in our careers. So for many women the public sector offers secure work, flexible working patterns and a chance to build up a decent income in retirement for women. More importantly, unlike the private sector, the gender pay gap is smaller and offers more opportunities to combine a good career with caring responsibilities once a woman decides to start a family.
It would be flippant to say that there has not been an improvement in the representation of women in top roles throughout the public service however, there are still striking differences between how they value the diversity of perspectives, skills and abilities between the genders. Nevertheless, the numbers of women making great strides to the top of private sector companies continues to be embarrassingly low, and we have to look to the public sector where targets and positive action have aimed to increase representation of women in senior roles.
It is not uncommon for women to seen in senior roles across the public sector but there is still much more that can be done to ensure that women’s talents and expertise are fully harnessed and rewarded on par to men. Making up 51% of the population recent figures from a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) for a BBC Panorama showed that the glass ceiling has hardly cracked, let alone, smashed. So with the spending review promising aggressive cuts and job losses, women have good reason to be fearful of the impact this will have on their career opportunities.
With four in 10 women working in public sector jobs and a staggering 85% employed as part-time workers, women only make up 21% of the top 200 public sector appointments; 20.1% are chief executives of local authorities and only 12% senior police officers. However, banking heavyweight Deloitte revealed in a recent report that the public not private sector which is the best arena for women in key leadership roles. But the BIJ insist that when it came to pay only one in five women working in the public sector were earning more than �100,000 with the pay gap wider in the judicial, schools, universities and fire service.
As the ConDem Coalition grapples to restore the country’s battered public finances, it is the public sector that will bear the brunt of the cuts. So where does that leave women?
Not in a comfortable place. With all the work done over the years to increase representation of women in senior roles across the sector, It is obvious that they face a bleak future. It has been widely reported that the axe is hovering over many of their jobs and cuts will have a disproportionate affect on them.
“Whilst some measures will benefit women, the overall package is one which could mean a backwards move on women’s equality,” Ceri Goddard, Fawcett’s Chief Executive is quoted as saying in response to the first ConLib Coalition document.
It is those fears of pay freezes, job losses and benefit cuts that have led the Fawcett Society to launch its unprecedented legal challenge to Osborne’s emergency budget. The society claims that in its preparations for cuts the government failed to carry out an “equality impact assessment” to show how the plans will affect women. If their case is upheld then MPs could be made to vote on the budget again.
So what do women need to do in order to stand out in a pool of other talented and experience women in a shrinking work pool?
Here are 3 simple steps that women can take to improve their career opportunities in a highly competitive and shrinking market.
Honestly answer this simple question?
What’s stopping you achieving the career success that you desire?
Next to your answer(s), review and then write a solution next to each response (at this point it might be useful to employ a reputable coach to work through this with you)
Once you know what you want out of your career, take responsibility for your success
* Plan your career path and set realistic goals for your progress
* Think creatively when designing your career path
* Get a mentor or coach to give you a fresh perspective
* Improve your technical skills and knowledge base
Create and implement a personal brand strategy and make sure people know about it
Improve your interpersonal and networking skills
* Harness and improve your leadership skills
* Gain the respect of your peers
* Harness your expertise and let people know about your skills
* Attend relevant networking events and forums
* Look the part, first impressions count
* People buy people, so make sure are around the leaders that can influence your future promotion.
Although women have made great strides in the public sector, let’s not short change the next generation of young girls who wish to take advantage of career opportunities in bigger, better and more senior leadership roles. By taking control of their careers, women can make improvements to careers advice and work experience opportunities to ensure all young women have the necessary information to make informed choices about their education and ultimately their careers in the future.
That’s the best legacy that we can leave the next generation of women coming through the ranks.