Launch of the Women and Work APPG’s Annual Report on Inclusivity and Intersectionality

As secretariat to the Women and Work All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), Connect is proud to launch the APPG’s Toolkit and Annual Report on Inclusivity and Intersectionality.

Throughout its work over the past four years, the APPG – co-chaired by Gillian Keegan MP and Jess Phillips MP – has recognised and highlighted the fact that women are not a homogenous group, and that a focus on gender alone can sometimes be misleading. In 2019, the APPG has sought to shine a spotlight on intersectionalities, exploring how a better understanding of the concept can support a more inclusive workplace.  We have heard evidence from witnesses as to how different aspects of identity such as age, race, disability, or income can affect an individual’s experience of recruitment and employment.

We know that there is concrete economic evidence for a more inclusive workplace as well as a weighty moral argument. Therefore, we have sought to move the conversation on from not simply why we should cultivate more inclusive workplaces, but how. From discussing disabilities and how to create more accessible workplaces to looking at mental health issues, the report seeks to equip employers with practical tips to make their organisation more inclusive as well as Government recommendations to support this ambition.

Our toolkit includes tips, many of which are free to implement but have a lasting impact, such as including gender pronouns at the bottom of emails to reduce cases of misgendering. We also put forward the idea of creating an ‘employee passport’, which details any reasonable adjustments or flexible working arrangements already agreed between an employee and their line manager and follows the employee through their time at the company, reducing the need to repeat conversations when there is a change in management. To look after employees’ mental health, the toolkit also recommends that, if feasible, employers offer several ‘wellbeing days’ each year, which employees can take at their own discretion and choose to spend as they please. This acknowledges that wellbeing means different things to different people.

We know that positive employer practices must be met with robust Government policy to ensure that all workplaces can become more inclusive. Our toolkit recommends that pay gap reporting be expanded to include ethnicity and disability, so it is clear how the salaries of employees who fall into intersecting marginalisation categories differ from their peers and specific, measurable and time-bound action plans be outlined to solve these disparities. In this vein, we eagerly await the results of the Government’s consultation on ethnicity pay reporting.

We were pleased to read of the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless there is a business case against it. We know that flexible working arrangements can help a range of people from those with disabilities, returning parents to employees looking to improve their work life balance. The toolkit recommends that the Government legislate to extend the right to request flexible working, so that it will apply from day one on all jobs. We also recommend that the Government commit to delivering the National LGBT Action Plan and develop it into a cross-Government strategy on LGBT equality.

A workplace where employees feel they can bring their ‘whole selves’ supports positive wellbeing, strengthens recruitment and retention and ultimately, increases productivity. The Women and Work APPG looks forward to progressing this agenda in 2020 by examining women’s wellbeing in the workplace in more detail. We will continue to tackle issues through a lens of intersectionality and seek to offer a platform to voices that are too often left out of mainstream discourse.

Lora Shopova