Diversity and Inclusion increases in working realities but gender gaps and segregation persist

While D&I work is often focusing on managers and employees with a formal professional degree, the majority of men and women work in jobs ‘on the floor’. How much do we know about their working realities and the diversity aspects that matter for them? More and more companies devise D&I programmes for individual contributors and the latest Eurofound survey provides a surprising figure: more than half of men and women share their job titles mainly with workers of their own gender.

Across European countries, occupations, gender and age groups, most workers are satisfied with their working time (58%), feel supported by their manager (58%) and colleagues (71%) and say their organisation motivates them to give their best job performance (63%). These are some of the promising results from the 6th European Working Conditions Survey that were presented for the first time on 24 November 2015 at a joint high-level event with the Luxembourg EU Presidency.

The report, however, also identifies some gaps that exist from a Diversity perspective: while female managers are on the increase, gender segregation remains persistent across the European labour market. Younger workers experience greater work intensity and job insecurity while older workers report less access to training. The survey also found significant differences in job quality across occupations.

The proportion of employees whose immediate boss (supervisor) is a woman has increased from 24% in 2000 to 33% in 2015. However, 85% of male employees are having a male supervisor. Men more frequently work longer hours (48 hours or more – self-employed workers in particular) and women more frequently work shorter hours (fewer than 20 hours). Men report more paid working hours, but the total number of working hours (paid work in main and second jobs, commuting time and daily unpaid work) is higher for women than for men.

Young workers are more exposed to work intensity, shift work, adverse social behaviour and job insecurity than other workers. The latter (workers over the age of 50) report lower prospects for career advancement and inadequate training provision.

These and other results underline the complex reality with which Europe’s policymakers and D&I practitioners are confronted as they seek to build a fair and competitive Europe or high performing organisations respectively. This is particularly true for gender, where segregation still prevails in a surprising way: over half of all workers report that they share their job title mainly with workers of the same sex as themselves (58% for men, 54% for women).

The EWCS is a wide-ranging survey of workers carried out by Eurofound every five years since 1991 and is a unique tool to measure job quality in Europe (and beyond). The survey interviews employees and self-employed workers face-to-face about key issues related to their work and employment. The sixth edition of the EWCS was carried out in 2015 in 35 countries. The EU28 analysis is based on 35,765 interviews. The questionnaire covers employment status, physical and psychosocial risks, time and place of work, work organisation, skills use and development, social relations at work, as well as health and well-being.

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency established in 1975, whose role is to provide knowledge in the area of social and work-related policies.