Female inequality…Sculpting a new way forward

Put up a statue of me tomorrow. Actually, don’t there’s enough statues of men already.

In June, Sky Sports News reported that less than 2 per cent of sports statues in the UK are of female athletes. Of the 240 statues, only 3 are of women. Before you read on ….. pause ….. and consider if you know these three women and what they are famous for:

  • Lily Parr
  • Dorothy Round
  • Lady Mary Peters

Sky Sports News investigation finds only three female sport statues in UK | Athletics News | Sky Sports

I chose now to write about this, because each day that passes is another day of inactivity towards putting this right. Writing about it in June would have missed some of the point and added no value to the investigations Sky Sports undertook, other than to possibly give it a wider audience.

Initially the headline was shocking, but we’ve been desensitised to shock and rarely does shock lead to action. Indeed, shock quite often leads to inaction. Instead, we look at justifying why it is like that, we recognise that inaction is an option and most of all, we assume it is somebody else’s problem.

Each day similar inequalities are hiding in plain sight.

So, for today we are going to use this story about statues as a metaphor for why so many societal ‘norms’ perpetuate continued inequality, and why so many organisational change programmes skim the surface, rather than putting in place the real changes that are actually needed.

This bust needs a bust!

The investigation into the lack of female sports statues centred on the following headlines:

  • General discrimination against women.
  • The type of sports that women have been most discriminated in have the most statues.
  • The type of sports that attract statues (mostly team sports).
  • The cost of sculpting statues, which is typically determined by the popularity of the athlete and the generosity of donors.

If we translate that into the workplace I would suggest the following comparative ‘norms:’

  • A history of discrimination is still present in every business and every walk of life. Like the statues it’s been around for a long time – See gender pay results for a clear example.
  • There are underlying issues for every outstanding form of visible and remaining form of discrimination – See the lack of female talent available to hire in arenas such as IT and engineering.
  • It is perpetuated by mass stereotypes that persist – See the take up of shared parental leave to understand this further.
  • The cost to put it right is seen as being too heavy to bear – See the lack of progress each year in each of the examples above.

Sculpting a new way forward

I’m sure right now there is a plan for a statue for Sarina Wiegman, somewhere.

I also know there are companies out there moving heaven and earth to change and to make a difference. This blog is not to suggest that we have zero action, but it is here to flag that there is too much inaction.

For those that aren’t, don’t let another day pass, talk to us today! Let’s build lasting legacy that stands tall like a statue! together and create a platform for change that we can be proud of.

Here are 3 things you can do to make a start:

  1. Undertake an audit and evaluation of your business, with a focus on identifying real opportunities for change.
  2. Set up a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) forum, if you already have one put in place a set of meaningful targets that mean action not just allyship.
  3. Set three targets at Board level that will make a difference to the societal norms. Be part of the solution that brings real change….

How can we help?

If you need help with Organisational Change or Organisational Design and want to build a change that is meaningful and will last talk to one of our experts on 01491 414010. Alternatively, take a look at our website for more information.


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