The chief business says reopening offices in the UK risks alienating women and minorities from work and careers

The government’s plan to reinstate people risks reverting to “middle-aged white males” who make important decisions in the office, while women and individuals from ethnic minorities are excluded at home, according to a senior UK business leader.

In an interview with The Guardian, CMI CEO Anne Frank cautioned that without close oversight “mixed work” could lead to a two-tier system where women without adequate childcare are left to return to the office. Major decisions.

A recent survey by TUC revealed this Two out of five mothers do not have the baby care they need To return to the office as some nurseries, babysitters and comprehensive care are still unavailable, while research shows that women are more likely to take on additional childcare.

“The danger is that when we go back to the office, the people returning will be the top leaders. We know that these great leaders are mostly white men.” This would reinforce the kind of exclusion and lack of diverse culture at the top of the organizations. I think that That would be a very dangerous step back. “

Frank also put herself at odds with government messages about the safety of returning to the office, saying, “I don’t think it’s a corporate responsibility to save the local sandwich shop. […] The bottom line is, ultimately, companies that are really affected in the long run will have to adapt. They simply have to adapt. “

She added that before returning to work, people had to feel safe. And they don’t feel safe. And anyone who took the tube to central London at normal times would understand why. “

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In the latest CMI survey of managers in August 2020, it was found that 74% of managers cited risk of contracting coronavirus as the most common concern for employees, while a previous survey found that 91% of managers said “mixed work” – a combination of work about After and office work – motivating them, 85% said it made them more productive, and 77% said it made them more satisfied.

An exclusive survey conducted by CMI for The Guardian also shows that nearly half of managers (42%) believe that lack of childcare caused by the coronavirus pandemic will have negative impacts on female employees, while only 20% believe it will be a problem for men. However, more than half of managers (58%) said they do not believe that the career progression of women in their organization will be affected by a staged return to work.

Frank does not share her confidence, and she has warned that there is a real risk of decades of women’s advancement in the workforce being reversed without government action.

The “unfortunate” requirement for companies to report gender pay gaps has been lifted this year, she said, but should be reimposed in 2021 along with the requirement to report racial pay gaps, she said, adding that the Financial Conduct Authority – made by investors. And CEOs note – rather than the Equality and Human Rights Commission, they should be mandated to fine companies that fail to address gender pay gaps.

She said, “It is an issue of importance for the Equality and Human Rights Commission of course, but they do not have the financial means or the ability to implement.” “You need to look at the bodies that investors and CEOs tend to be the financial regulators to.”

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She added that the hefty fines – combined with corporate pressure to approve of investor approval – will be real incentives for companies that only flirt with addressing gender pay gaps.

There must be consequences for those who haven’t made progress. She said, “Transparency is great, but transparency with teeth is better.” She said companies should also look at the racial pay gap – and take steps to close it. “We know from many studies that companies with more diverse management teams outperform those without. Why not want to make progress?”

She added that the pandemic has been a catalyst for a shift in the flexible remote work that women’s groups have advocated for years. “Suddenly, you know, what they were going to do in five years they had to do in five days. Once people see what they might be, it encourages them to create the conditions they prefer. I think companies that offer flexible and blended work will benefit. Because she has a much wider talent pool. “

It fired a warning shot for companies anxious to return to factory settings: “There’s no way back from the fact that flexible work works. And if you’re going to take it away from people when they know it’s working, you’ll pay the price.”

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