By Jade Wilkins, retail recruitment expert
Gender equality is often in the news; especially with pay gaps and equal rights. It’s an issue seen in many “traditionally male” industries such as tech, IT, construction and engineering. There are still many barriers to women entering traditionally “male” careers including social, cultural and emotional considerations.
The cycling industry, too, has a problem with gender inequality. Look around you. Whether it’s your customers, your colleagues, your club members or your board, chances are that it will be a male-dominated environment. Achieving gender equality isn’t just a tick-box exercise. Gender balance leads to greater productivity, increased performance, an enhanced ability to attract and retain employees, and a better reputation. As a business, you will relate better to your own customers,
whoever they may be.
When it comes to attracting women into cycling as a sport, several excellent programmes already exist and there are a growing number of ‘ladies only’ cycling clubs and teams. The women’s sport at the top level continues to develop and to attract more sponsorship and media coverage. This can only help our industry when looking at the genders taking up the various careers on offer. Most of what will attract women into an industry is the same as for men. There is no need for flashy perks, just for fair working conditions, paid leave and a clear career progression. Flexible working practices are as important for men as they are for women.
Think about how you can be flexible as a company, set guidelines and stick to them. How often do you hear a story of someone being offered flexible working at the recruitment stage and then finding out on starting the job that it’s not so easy?
When you are advertising, do you make a conscious effort to reach male and female audiences? If you are advertising on a website with a readership dominated by men, you may struggle to reach women at all.
You should also think about the wording you use in adverts – is the wording gender-neutral? There are several online guides you can use to check this, and if you’re unsure, you should ask for proofreading assistance from colleagues of both genders.
When people conduct research – however minor – into your company, think about what they see. Does your website and your marketing material show a diverse environment? Put yourself in the candidate’s place; are they going to be put off by the image you are portraying?
Cycling industry leaders also have a big part to play. They can make efforts to ensure that the sector as a whole is projecting itself in a positive way to both men and women. That might mean starting early and looking at where young people get their information about the cycling industry and the careers it offers. It could mean forging links with schools, cycling clubs, parent groups and across social media.
Engineering and tech industries are leading the way with initiatives to encourage girls to consider careers in their sectors. Young Engineers is an excellent charitable organisation that promotes engineering through the practical application of science to all UK students ages seven to 19. When you view their website, it only takes a moment to see the benefit of encouraging all genders to take part in their programmes. Is this something we can emulate in the cycling industry? I think so.