How to create a more equal world of work for young women

By Claire Reindorp, CEO Young Women's Trust • 7 March 2024

International women’s day 2024

International Women’s Day is a day for celebration; but crucially it’s also a call to action. As we reflect on the achievements of women around the world, we must recognise the challenges that young women face in their pursuit of equality, including  in the workplace.

I recently met a group of young women at an event we held for employers to talk about how we can create a more equal world of work. Bringing together the perspectives of young women and employers made for some powerful conversations.

“I found the roundtable an enlightening exchange of perspectives, sparking an insightful discussion on early career barriers for women and what gets in the way of implementing  inclusive practices.” – Demii Lee Walker, a young woman.

What’s holding young women back?

Young women, on average, earn a fifth less than their male counterparts. For some groups of young women, such as those from racially minoritised communities, the income gap  is even larger.

At a time in life when they should be growing, learning, and taking chances, young women are struggling to get by. Earning less at this early stage of their working lives has lasting consequences on women’s finances including contributing to a gender pension gap of over 35%.

Our latest research exposes the deep-rooted discrimination that perpetuates income inequality. Many young women find themselves trapped in unfavourable work environments, facing discrimination, misery, or even safety concerns because they can’t afford to leave. There is an entire workforce losing hope and their talents are going to waste.

The call to action

It’s now time for everyone – employers, policymakers, managers, and colleagues – to use your power to make a change.

Young women deserve a better future – this will only come through action. Young women have  developed  a manifesto that outlines five critical asks:

  • Fair and equal pay
  • No unfair barriers to work
  • Support to progress
  • Job security
  • No discrimination

The manifesto is a rallying cry for change. Young Women’s Trust urges employers to make workplaces more inclusive by embracing flexible working arrangements in all roles, ensuring fair pay, and actively supporting the promotion of young women.

Many employers are making good progress but there is so much more to be done. And we all have a role to play: calling out sexism when we see it and championing young women wherever we can.

If you’d like to see a more equal world of work, join the movement and help change young women’s lives. The time for action is now.