The Power of Parity

A study of how Lewisham Council achieved gender equality at senior levels, the learning and implications

Brown D |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Jul 2016

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Despite the proliferation of equality and diversity policies in major employers and passage of supportive employment legislation over the past 40 years, the UK still has a significant gender pay gap of almost 20 per cent. A major contributor to this is the so called ‘glass ceiling’ effect (Bryant, 1984), evidenced by a lack of women in the most senior positions.

Lewisham Council has a long history of promoting female equality and for some years has displayed gender parity in the make-up of its senior posts. Just what is it that explains Lewisham’s success in this? Is it more equal representation lower down the organisation and bigger talent pools of women to draw on? Perhaps more active enforcement of its equality and flexible working policies? Better role modelling and mentoring support from the top of the organisation? Or clearer career paths and excellent talent management? Or have all of these played a role?

IES carried out a short project for the Council to research these issues and highlight in this case how the glass ceiling impact on senior executives has been overcome.