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How We’re Helping Employers Challenge Discrimination

8 March 2021
At Loch Associates Group, we love to celebrate women’s achievements and are committed to challenging discrimination against women in the workplace.  Pam Loch founded Loch Associates Group in 2007 to respond to the need for tailored, pragmatic and commercial solutions for clients. 
Not only do we buck the trend of female-led businesses (only 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEO roles are held by women), but 82% of our staff are female and we champion their progression. This means that we’re particularly aware of gender bias and we work hard to forge an equal workplace for the benefit of employers and employees alike. 
In honour of International Women’s Day, we would like to introduce you to some of the women behind our services and take you through how they are helping employers.  

Sally Bedeau joined Loch HR in 2015 and has over 20 years’ experience working in HR across both the public and private sector, operating at strategic and front-line levels. Sally particularly enjoys training others and is often presenting training in person or remotely to guide businesses on getting the best out of staff. Sally has found that in order to succeed, women are often forced to assimilate into a male culture that is not designed to accommodate women, but remains hopeful that this is changing. 

On the issue of equal pay, women are legally entitled to be paid at the same rate as men for like work, work rated as equivalent, and work of equal value. Sally has supported numerous clients with salary benchmarking exercises; an essential tool to determine fair pay packages that meet industry standards for all employees. She also helps employers comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting to combat the gender pay gap across workforces.

Sue Ranson  joined Loch HR in 2020 and uses her HR expertise to guide clients through their day to day HR challenges, working with them to ensure they have the right policies and processes in place for their business. While HR itself is a very female-centric environment, Sue has previously worked in roles across various male-dominated industries, such as insurance, telecoms and print manufacturing where she strived to recruit female talent.

When it comes to maternity leave, Sue not only helps businesses follow lawful and best practice policies, but she has championed the development of a Pregnancy Handbook. This tailors communication for the individual, with personalised dates, FAQs and risk assessments, and equally makes the process as clear and smooth as possible for employers to manage.

Caroline Denbow qualified as a solicitor in 1994. She advises clients across a wide range of employment issues and also heads up our Legal Compliance team. Caroline feels that there have been great strides made in the representation of women in law since she joined the profession, where women have historically been under-represented. While this is encouraging, it is still clear that there is more that can be done to remove the barriers women face in making it to partner status. 

Caroline has facilitated extensive Diversity and Inclusion training for clients during her time at Loch Associates Group. In this way she has helped businesses combat the risk of discrimination and harassment, as well as improve awareness, productivity, and workplace morale among employees. In terms of recruitment, Caroline has supported numerous clients with anonymising the process to drive equal opportunities for all candidates. Another strategy she has been able to introduce is a development programme designed to progress female employees through the ranks of a business up to senior management level, and taking action against the disparity of women in senior leadership positions.  

Roisin Kavanagh joined Loch Law in 2019 and acts for employers and individuals who need help to resolve their employment law problems. She is on the ELA’s Junior Committee, helping to represent the diverse background and experiences of its members. Roisin assists our clients with advice and support where there are disputes, grievances, discrimination or disciplinaries.  She is encouraged by the amount of women entering the profession and hopes that one day in the near future they will reach the top tiers, and is inspired by what our MD Pam Loch has achieved.

Roisin advises clients who are committed to promoting equality and eradicating harassment or bullying at work. She helps them develop best practice policies and procedures, and works closely with businesses on breaches of conduct. In cases where bullying is found to have occured, it often takes the form of female stereotypes. Studies show that 1 in 4 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace, although fortunately this is on the decline. Roisin believes the strict implementation of harassment laws is the only means by which to eliminate this behaviour. She supports clients to investigate claims and take appropriate action up to and including dismissal.

Alice Aldridge qualified as a solicitor in 2008 and specialises in advising employers and employees in the regulated services sectors. She regularly provides pragmatic commercial advice and often represents clients in Employment Tribunal and High Court claims. In her previous role, Alice worked at a niche employment law firm in the City where she represented individuals against large financial institutions. She believes that work/life balance could be one of the biggest obstacles that sees women severely under-represented at partner level, which is a particular challenge for mothers with women making up  97% of the childcare workforce.

While it is yet to be tested in law, discrimination against women during the pandemic and the adverse effect of COVID-19 on the progression of gender equality has been well documented in the media. Women have been disproportionately affected with “female” industries such as retail, beauty, and hospitality being hit especially hard. Furthermore, women are bearing the brunt of extra childcare and housework responsibilities, with mothers 47% more likely to have permanently lost their job, and 14% more likely to have been furloughed since the start of the crisis. Alice has seen a sharp increase in the number of flexible working requests, and continues to support businesses in managing these properly to accommodate women’s needs and create a more even playing field. As a mother of two, she advises clients on the fairest way to furlough staff taking into account discrimination against women with childcare responsibilities, and so tries to redress the balance.

If you need expert guidance to make sure your business is doing everything it should be to achieve gender equality and eliminate discrimination, our team of employment law and HR specialists can support you at every step of the process, whether you need policy reviews or training or new recruitment strategies. Get in touch with us today.

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