The 2023 Smart Works Unemployment Index is here.

As a women’s employment charity, we felt we had an obligation to provide a platform for women to share their unique experiences of what it means to be unemployed. We understand the importance of having a job, particularly in today’s challenging climate, and have witnessed this first-hand through our delivering our service. The Smart Works Unemployment Index exists to investigate the barriers women face when seeking employment, acting as an annual benchmark against which progress, impact, and change can be tracked and measured.

One year on from the launch of the inaugural Smart Works Unemployment Index, we’ve observed a deterioration in the conditions under which women are seeking work. Our sample size has more than tripled and the report analyses 3,784 conversations with those supported by Smart Works throughout 2023, offering a unique insight into the barriers women across the UK face when seeking employment in today’s landscape. Although we hoped this year’s report would bring some much-needed positive news about the recruitment landscape, sadly, this is not the case.

While the report revealed a challenging recruitment landscape, it also highlighted that women remain determined to work. This drive was not solely for financial security, despite the critical climate of the cost-of-living-crisis, but more to gain a ‘sense of purpose and identity’, which was cited by more women than any other motivator at 25%.

This year, we have taken this report one step further to recommend clear and simple actions that employers can take to ensure a more accessible recruitment process.

We know these women have significant potential to succeed, and the Smart Works service has the ability to help them tap into this potential and transform their lives. Together, we can support more women into the workforce and make employers realise that women are one of the greatest assets we have in our economy.

Click here to read the full report.