Aspirational business charter aims to raise awareness of gender equality 

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, the voice of business in the county, has launched a Gender Equality in Business Charter – and is urging local businesses to sign up to its aspirations. 

Designed by the board of Suffolk Business Women (SBW), which is part of Suffolk Chamber, the Charter has already been backed by nearly 20 Suffolk organisations, including Birketts, Challs International, Muntons, Suffolk Mind and Suffolk New College. 

The Charter outlines a set of commitments that organisations can use to assess where they are today, and to commit publicly their support for greater gender equality in the workplace by signing up to the Charter. 

The Charter aims to make a contribution to delivering the manifesto commitments of Suffolk Business Women, including to: “Develop, highlight and nurture a talent pipeline in Suffolk that ensures a wider choice of skilled business women qualified to be considered for recruitment, promotion, and to represent business on boards and in vocational positions.” 

Suffolk Chamber is keen to make the process as easy and non-bureaucratic as possible. Therefore, signing up to the Charter is on the basis of self-audit: there will be no inspections. 

Mark Tyldesley, managing director of Muntons Plc and an SBW member said: “This Charter an aspirational endeavour. It is a small but very public step in raising the profile of the ongoing need for greater gender equality in the workplaces. 

“Those businesses that sign up to the charter are committing to creating the right cultures and have in place the right processes to ensure that their female and males employees are treating equally.” 

Amanda Ankin, Suffolk Chamber’s operations director, added: “This is all about Suffolk being at the forefront of the national effort to allow men and women to always reach their full potential. That is good for them, good for the companies they work for and good for the county and country as a whole.” 

The Charter is the first in a series of initiatives from SBW aimed at encouraging and supporting different ways of delivering greater gender equality at all levels within the business community. 

To support this campaign, companies can download the Charter logo at: https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/suffolk-business-women/suffolk-chamber-gender-equality-in-business-charter/ 

 The provisions of the Gender Equality in Business Charter are:

1.    We represent and support the communities which we serve 

2.    We acknowledge that business cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of all. We commit to advancing equality in our business, in particular measuring and addressing the loss of women across the career pipeline and the gender balance across board and senior management roles 

3.    We acknowledge that advancing gender equality demands commitment and action from all levels of the organisation and in particular active leadership from those in senior roles. We have named a board level sponsor for equality and charter commitments 

4.    We commit to measuring and tackling the gender pay gap, with an action plan published to all our employees 

5.    We commit to removing any obstacles faced by women

a.    at major points of career development

b.    in major points of life change, including (but not limited to) return to work post maternity 

c.    reviewing basic workplace provisions such as facilities, shift patterns, transport and flexible working 

6.    Equality and diversity is supported through all staff training (including the identification of unconscious bias in the workplace and in recruitment) and as to how we engage with our staff

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