Plea to Bristol’s male-dominated firms to help city gain title of UK capital of gender equality

May 1, 2024

Businesses in traditionally male industries such as engineering and manufacturing are being urged to back efforts to help make Bristol the UK’s first gender equal city.

The call has come from Bristol Women in Business Charter, which has signed up 45 organisations represents more than a fifth of Bristol’s workforce since its launch in 2019. 

That equates to 45,492 out of a total of around 222,400 employees in the city.

But while these organisations span the financial, legal and property sectors, as well as Bristol’s two universities, the city council and Avon & somerset Police, so far no employers in the city’s more male-dominated industries have signed up.

Charter leaders are now calling for more male allies from big industry sectors following the launch of its 2024 Annual Impact Report, which showcases its achievements over the past 12 months.

The report also follows information from the latest census, which shows that women in Bristol who are economically active earn more than £1 less an hour than their male counterparts.

There are also 29,500 fewer women in work (116,300) in the city compared to men (145,300).

Charter director Sandra Gordon, pictured, said: “We have been talking for some time about inclusive workforces but still what we are seeing is that issues are dealt with in silos, not as a holistic process.

“Part of really affecting change is ensuring that our main industries, which tend to be more male dominated, are involved at the heart of this conversation.

“We have seen an increase in the number of male allies attending our events and interested in creating gender equality on all levels of business, but we need far greater input from the city’s major male-based employers.”

She said only when these industries came to the table would the charter be able to collectively move forward.

“The coming year will see us ensure many more spaces are created for this to happen and call on senior HRs and CEOs to have a conversation to join the charter and see how we can help create more progressive, inclusive and successful workplaces,” she added.

UWE Bristol chief people officer Dan Wood said there was still a long way to go towards making Bristol a gender equal city.

“We need to make quicker progress. Systemic, structural, institutional and interpersonal forms of gender discrimination exist in all walks of life in our city – this harms people, holds back our talent, and diminishes our integrity,” he added.

“If we’re bold and we work to change this at all levels our city will be stronger, more competitive, and more influential in the wider world.

“In Bristol especially, equity and justice need to be demonstrated as our core values. This is worth fighting for.

“We need to embrace true collaboration and joint understanding of these issues as leaders, it is central to unlocking the innovation and economic prosperity that sits at the heart of gender equality.”

Bristol Women in Business Charter was formed by Women in Business Task Group, a group of volunteers and part of the Bristol Women’s Commission, as part of a collaboration unique to the city supporting employers put gender equity at the heart of strategic workforce planning.

Some of the key benefits for charter signatories, which include finance firm Hargreaves Lansdown and law firm TLT, include opening up talent pools and retaining employees who are often hard to reach or who leave their employers due to caring duties or lack of opportunity.

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