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Most managers have seen gender discrimination in past year

A survey of 851 UK managers found that 81% had encountered discrimination in the past 12 months

Four in five managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination or bias in the past year, according to research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute for its CMI Women campaign.

The survey of 851 UK managers found that 81% had encountered discrimination in the past 12 months. Half (50%) said they had seen gender bias in recruitment/promotion decisions, while 42% witnessed inequality in pay and rewards. More than two-thirds (69%) of managers saw women struggling to make their views heard in meetings, and four in five (81%) said they had witnessed inappropriate remarks (such as comments with sexual overtones masquerading as workplace ‘banter’).

Female managers were more likely to have seen discrimination than their male peers, with only 62% of male managers noticing women struggling to get their voices heard in meetings compared with 83% of female managers.

Despite this, 23% of male managers said they had sponsored a woman in the past 12 months, 84% had put a woman forward for a promotion, and 69% had mentored a woman.

Government minister for women, equalities and early years Caroline Dinenage described equality as “everyone’s business”.

“Gender discrimination is completely unacceptable – women should never be held back just because of their gender,” she said. “Shining a light on this issue is absolutely key to achieving equality in the workplace, which is why we are introducing requirements on all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data from April.

"But equality is everyone’s business – and it benefits both men and women alike. Men have an important role to play in championing gender equality and this initiative will encourage even more men to actively drive this issue so that all employees can reach their full potential.?"

CMI CEO Ann Francke laid out the business case for equality. “Achieving a better gender balance is essential to boosting the UK’s productivity, which lags far behind our G7 competitors,” she said. “If we’re to meet this ambitious target then managers at all levels must call out behaviour that discriminates against women and encourage equality within their workplace.

“There are many things that managers, and particularly men in senior roles, can do. There are the big things like championing better flexible working arrangements and sponsoring and mentoring women. But there are also the everyday things like giving everyone an equal chance to be heard in meetings, and cutting out the ‘locker room’ banter that is holding us all back.”