According to the Understanding the Gender Imbalance in STEM whitepaper from recruitment event provider STEM Women, 74% of female students said they felt that a company’s diversity initiatives were either extremely or very important when considering where to work.
More than half (54%) of respondents said that the gender balance in a company would be an influencing factor when considering potential offers.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the UK has suspended mandatory gender pay gap reporting for 2020 yet these findings may help make the case for it to be reinstated as soon as possible.
Speaking to HR magazine, Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director at socio-economic inequality campaigner The Equality Trust, said: "It is really encouraging to see STEM students considering these issues in terms of their career choices. It reveals the importance of transparency and publishing gender pay and gender bonus gaps, which is why it is essential that this duty to report is reinstated as soon as possible.”
To help students understand and challenge workplace injustices, Wyporska also said that the trust is developing resources for schools.
She added: “Companies need to realise that how they treat their staff plays a huge role in their reputations and that tick-box diversity actions are not going to pass muster."
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is campaigning for the introduction of mandatory ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting. In response to STEM Women’s results, a spokesperson for the commission also encouraged businesses to still try to report gender pay gap data for 2020 where possible.
They told HR magazine: “This is a clear wake-up call to businesses that pay inequality and a lack of action to address under-representation within the workplace is a real issue when the time comes for female STEM students to choose their employers.
“As a result, this puts employers at risk of losing out on talented women and limiting progress on creating more diverse workforces.
“All employers should bear this in mind and publish action plans on how they intend to narrow the gender pay gap in their organisation.”
Zurich UK is one business that still intends to uphold its gender pay gap reporting for 2020.
Head of HR Steve Collinson said to HR magazine: “Addressing pay gaps is a priority for us and we’ve already put in place a number of initiatives to help us address the problem. This includes advertising all new roles as being available on a part-time or job share basis in order to attract women into senior roles.
“Only by collating, publishing and analysing pay data can organisations really get to the root of the issue and then implement steps to effect change. It also sends out a clear message to job applicants that we’re fully committed to embracing diversity and tackling pay gaps.”
STEM Women’s whitepaper Understanding the Gender Imbalance in STEM is based on the views of 176 women studying a range of STEM subjects at universities across the UK.
Further reading on gender pay gap reporting: