Majority of women in GCS do not feel supported in their careers, survey finds

Jonathan Owen, PR Week

Most women in the Government Communication Service are not getting the support and help they need, according to a new survey by members of the GCS Early Talent programme.
The research had been prompted by a "real knowledge gap" in how women feel about their careers and the support they receive, wrote GCS members Nicky Jackson and Jayne Hoole in a blog post announcing the start of the survey last month.

An update published on the GCS website last week revealed that only 27 per cent of respondents agree that the GCS is supportive of working parents and carers in its policies and practice.

And just 29 per cent think the GCS encourages flexible, inclusive working environments that support women to achieve a healthy work/life balance.

Issues cited by respondents to the survey included feeling that there are some comms roles which are fundamentally unsuited to those with caring responsibilities and that having a child would force a career change.

The GCS needs to be "representative and inclusive" according to Alex Aiken, executive director, who argues that making it an "employer of choice" will enable it to recruit and retain the best people "regardless of background, ethnicity, gender or disability".

While there are encouraging signs of change at senior level, with women having broken through to achieve parity in comms director posts across major government departments, the survey's results highlight how issues still remain in the wider civil service.

Despite accounting for more than half of all civil servants, women remain underrepresented in the senior civil service, holding just 41 per cent of these positions, according to the Institute for Government.

While proportions of women at all grades have increased in recent years, it says that "the fundamental pattern the higher up you go, the lower the proportion of women remains." Women fill a higher percentage of junior posts than more senior roles, the report says.

In a bid to move toward greater equality, the GCS Early Talent programme, which identifies potential future leaders, is holding a Women in Communications event in September. This will examine how women can be better supported to succeed in government comms and maintain a positive work/life balance.

A GCS spokesperson said: "This Government is determined to build a country and a society which work for everyone, and supporting diversity and inclusion is a priority for the whole of government."

They added: "As part of this, the Government Communication Service wants to increase awareness about the policies and support available for female members, which is why we are holding our Women in Communications event in September, where we'll also be asking people what else can be done to meet the needs of women working in GCS."
uploaded: Thu, Aug 2 2018
modified: Tue, Dec 30 1969