Can automation help to achieve gender equality in the workplace?

Here at Cloud Geeni, we’re firm believers in the power of automation and its potential to revolutionise the workplace.

Not least because, according to reports, up to 30% of UK jobs could be impacted by automation by the early 2030s. But, despite the fear-inducing headlines, in reality, rather than replacing humans modern tech is more about taking over those mundane and repetitive tasks we could all do without. Leaving more time for humans to focus on client care, and ultimately providing expanded, and more rewarding career paths.

But there is another aspect of automation that deserves our attention – and that’s its ability to help make gender equality a reality.

Automation and gender equality

Despite almost half a century having passed since the Equal Pay Act, the majority of women still earn less than their male colleagues. One of the many reasons for this is that women are still expected to take more responsibility for care at home. And, in 2018, most employers still lack the flexibility needed when it comes to helping their staff to juggle family and careers. As long as this situation remains, it seems likely that the workforce will remain unequal.

But it seems that the tide might be changing. People – regardless of their gender – want flexible employment. And with flexible working predicted to be the primary way of working for 70% of organisations by 2020, this could be good news for women.

According to two leading academics at the University of Manchester, there are many alternatives for shaping a more gender equal society. And, in a recent article, Debra Howcroft, Professor of Technology and Organisation, and Jill Rubery, Professor of Comparative Employment Systems explain how automation has the potential to improve gender equality at work.

In their commentary, Professor Howcroft and Professor Rubery argue that if automation boosts productivity, the average working week could be radically reduced, creating more free time for all. However, they stress that any reduction in working hours must not mean a corresponding decrease in salary. They contend that:

“As part-time and low-paid workers are predominantly female a reduced working week with a decent salary could enable a more equal distribution of wage work. Rather than revert to the norm of men earning a family wage while women care for family members, more free time for both women and men could create the conditions necessary for a more equal sharing of care.”

Professor Howcroft and Professor Rubery also argue that the latest advancements in technology could help to support more innovative approaches towards domestic and care arrangements. For example, rather than focusing on presenteeism, new forms of flexible working that give workers control over when and where they work could help to equalise household roles.

Read the article in full here.

For businesses that want to end gender disparities in the workplace, it seems that automation is crucial. Indeed, rather than being something we are scared is going to steal our jobs, it can help us to create an equal society by facilitating a more flexible workforce.

But, if you are serious about facilitating real change, putting the right technology in place doesn’t just mean supplying employees with smartphones and some clever apps. Instead, you must invest in fixed and mobile technology, cloud-based productivity tools, and a hosted desktop solution so your employees can access their data, software, and files wherever they are.

To find out how our hosted desktops can help your employees to work more flexibly, contact us today for an informal chat.

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