On International Women’s Day 2022, we are celebrating the significant contribution women at Cardiff Business School have made, and continue to make, to the lives of women around the world.
Professor Rachel Ashworth, Dean of Cardiff Business School writes: “International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for us all to reflect on what has been achieved in terms of greater gender equality in the workplace and participation in the wider economy. We must celebrate where there has been success, such as the improvements in the representation of women in leadership positions.
“Nevertheless, as the recent State of the Nation report by Chwarae Teg has highlighted, the pace of change has been too slow. Cardiff Business School is committed to playing its part in advancing progress in all areas of gender equality at a local, national and global level. Below is just a small taste of the important research that is happening in our School.”
Gender Pay Gap
“Today, women still earn less than men on average, even after accounting for underlying gender differences in characteristics.”
Dr Ezgi Kaya, Lecturer in Economics, is exploring the gender pay gap in different country contexts, particularly in Europe. “In most countries, the gender pay gap has decreased in the last couple of decades, but what is most striking is that there is a persistent and sizeable gap.”
She says: “Gender pay gap is a simple measure of a more complex issue and therefore there is no one straightforward solution to close the gap. Although the evidence base is still being built, pay transparency policies hold significant appeal as they represent a tool, both to identify and take action against the gender pay gap in the workplace.”
Professor Jones said: “The gender pay gap in Northern Ireland, at 5%, is less than 1/3 of the value in the rest of the UK. We found that the narrower gender pay gap in Northern Ireland doesn’t reflect greater pay equality for women in Northern Ireland.
“Instead, it reflects the fact that women in Northern Ireland are more educated and have a more highly rewarded occupational structure than men, relative to the rest of the UK.”
Labour conditions in the global garment sector
Professor Jean Jenkins, Professor of Employment Relations, has long been investigating labour conditions in the global garment sector.
She said: “Women make up around 80% of the international workforce in this industry. They are more likely to be working for low pay, in poor conditions, and are subject to various forms of abuse in the workplace on a daily basis.
“Women are targeted by employers in this sector for their reputation for being compliant, obedient and cheap labour. On International Women’s Day I want to take the opportunity to honour the inspirational work of so many women who are engaging in labour activism and fight against those stereotypes.”
The Living Wage
“Low pay is a major issue within the UK economy, with around 1 in 4 women earning a wage insufficient to live on.”
Dr Deborah Hann, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations, together with Dr David Nash and Professor Edmund Heery, has been evaluating the impact of the real Living Wage on the lowest paid within society.
“Real Living Wage accreditation asks employers to pay a wage based on what it actually costs people to live. Currently, nearly 9,000 employers have voluntarily agreed to pay this higher rate. Whilst not specifically designed as an intervention for women, accredited employers told us that women are major recipients of the wage increases.
“We can also see this in the types of roles that have seen pay rises after accreditation. 4,500 employers reported that they have increased the pay of their part-time workers as a result of accreditation – a form of work that is dominated by women. Our research has calculated that, since 2011, over £1.5B has gone into the pockets of the UK’s lowest paid workers as a direct result of the real Living Wage accreditation. The over-representation of women amongst these low-paid workers would indicate that a significant proportion of this money will have therefore gone to women.”
Social sustainability in supply chains
Dr Maryam Lofti, Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, is working to tackle social sustainability in supply chains.
She says: “The reality is that current trends for holding supply chains responsible for gender equality issues are limited. This exists not only for female workers, but also for those women who are working at the decision-making levels in the supply chains.
Dr Lofti is working with NGOs, governments and industries to tackle these social issues, “with the hope of having a world where our cultures, our societies, and our supply chains are free from any kind of gender inequality issues.”
Diversity in accounting and finance
“Although there is more diversity on promotion panels, evaluation practices still tend to privilege traditional ideas about merit that may hinder the career progression of women and minority groups.”
Carla Edgley and Dr Nina Sharma, from Cardiff Business School’s Accounting and Finance department, are working with Professor Keith Robson of HEC Paris, and Dr Fiona Anderson-Gough of Warwick Business School, to understand diversity in accounting and finance.
“Diversity initiatives are not changing the way in which merit is understood. And, in turn, how this is privileging the career progression of certain groups, while hindering the career progression of women and minority groups.
“While the rationale of diversity has changed some aspects of work, such as training, equipment, and flexible working practices, the idea of diversity blending with believes about merit, was something unthinkable to the people that we interviewed.
“This block maintains a status quo, and it closes down possibilities of understanding how the business care for a promotion requires time, and being given an opportunity to develop what can be construed as merit in a traditional way. And it hinders reflection on how individuals contribute to organisational success in different ways.
“Significant change will not happen unless this tension between diversity and merit is addressed.”