Hays UK blog


Changing mindsets: how we’re pressing for progress

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress, and around the world it is encouraging to see so many individuals, organisations and groups speaking ever more loudly and urgently about the need for progress on gender equality.

This year’s campaign urges all of us to commit to a gender parity mindset, and I agree this is crucial if we are to sustain our commitment to real progress on gender equality. Tangible action on gender parity is essential, but it needs to be backed up by a mindset that challenges gender inequality on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some of the ways we can all adopt the mindset to #PressForProgress:

Question assumptions

As part of our journey to achieving the National Equality Standard at Hays, we had to look closely at our organisation to ensure we are truly the meritocracy we aim to be. Our diversity journey has proven that there is much to be gained from asking difficult questions about how inclusive your culture and attitudes really are. A key change for us was the introduction of new unconscious bias training which enabled us to ensure we were tackling the hearts and minds of our hiring managers, in addition to improving our diversity monitoring and reporting processes.

All of us have a role to play in questioning the assumptions and barriers to progress that often underlie gender inequality in the workplace. In industries such as science and technology women are still under-represented, particularly at senior levels. Despite years of campaigning there are still outdated assumptions that these are ‘men’s jobs’, and unless these attitudes are continually and rigorously challenged we will struggle to confine these views to the past.

Examine progress

As recruiters we have an important role to play in ensuring fair and inclusive recruitment processes allow everyone an equal opportunity to succeed, and we take this commitment very seriously. 

To find out what progress employers are making in their own commitments on this issue, I am also pleased to announce that we are today launching our annual Diversity & Inclusion survey which will examine how employers are performing against 5 key factors to supporting ED&I in the workplace, from the actions of leaders to the impact of culture and career management of employees.

Be an advocate for change

Outside the workplace, whether as mentors, teachers, parents or friends, we can all help challenge gender bias in our everyday attitudes. Studies have shown time and time again that attitudes towards work and gender are formed at an incredibly young age, and this is something that we can all help address. We work with a number of diversity networks and groups making excellent progress in this within their local communities.

Finally, we can all be positive advocates for change, and for the achievements of women around us. Today we join many companies in celebrating women’s successes, telling the story of just one of our talented employees in #HerHaysStory. On International Women’s Day we celebrate the progress we are making on gender equality, but it’s essential that this gender parity mindset remains for the rest of the year if we are to really #PressForProgress.

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.


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