International Women's Day 2024 - Celebrating women in the workplace

The CIPD’s Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser, invites the UK Minister for Employment to highlight government initiatives to help women in work thrive. 

The CIPD has been working with UK Government departments and our members to support the attraction, retention and progression of women at work across a number of areas. This includes support for creating menopause-friendly workplaces, promoting flexible working through our co-chairing of the Flexible Working Taskforce and considering the needs of 50+ workers as part of the 50Plus Choices Employer Taskforce.  For International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’ve asked Jo Churchill, Minister for Employment, to reflect on some of the changes that have come about recently and the government’s role in making them happen.  

Jo Churchill: 

“International Women’s Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate the talent, skills, and contribution of the near record 16.1 million women in work in the UK. 

Today there are 2.4 million more women in work than in 2010, and it is fantastic to see this number growing. This rise would not be achievable without our brilliant Jobcentre staff who support women in their work journey. As well as those working in businesses across the country, who not only recruit from this group but support and encourage female colleagues to stay and progress within their workplaces. 

I want to build on this success.  

That is why the DWP continues to support women within the workplace through all their career and life stages, from raising a young family to experiencing menopause as well as progressing in work. 

We know that childcare can be a barrier to work for many parents, particularly women, who are more likely to have unpaid caring responsibilities. This is why last year, we improved the affordability of childcare for individuals on Universal Credit (UC), something I know the CIPD was pleased to see. UC support now offers even more help with upfront childcare costs when a parent enters work or extends their hours. We have also increased the generosity of the UC childcare costs caps by nearly 50%, to £950.92 for one child and £1,630.15 for two or more children respectively. We know that these changes are already making a huge difference to families across the country. 

Last year, my colleague, the Minister for Disabled People, Mims Davies MP appointed the Department’s first ever Menopause Employment Champion. Helen Tomlinson is working to promote the benefits of supporting women experiencing menopause within businesses. To coincide with her work, we have also launched new guidance on the Help to Grow website which provides businesses with the resources they need to help educate their organisation and workers on menopause. I know the CIPD have provided excellent resources for this site which are helping businesses across the country to improve support.  

Evidence shows working flexibly benefits everyone with additional responsibilities, or who needs or wants to continue working. To support this, from 6 April 2024, employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of a new job, with employers required to consider any requests. Should employers feel unable to accept the request, they will need to consult with the employee. We hope this helps more women to enter the workplace.  

Many of you reading this will be responsible for recruitment within your respective organisations and I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the fantastic pool of dynamic, hardworking, and skilled candidates available through your local Jobcentre. As you look to expand your workforce or fill a vacancy, the DWP is available to help.  

I want to see women progress and grow in their careers and confidence, and reach their full potential. We know women want this too.” 

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