Organizations know very well that promoting equality and inclusion is the right thing to do, but it’s a daunting task. Providing your workforce with equal opportunity can benefit your business, but most companies still pay their female employees less compared to their male counterparts. Further, there are fewer women workers in leadership positions than men.
Because of that, single-gender dominates companies in many countries, including the developed ones. Part of the reasons behind the low participation of women in workplaces is the lack of awareness and the fact that leaders fail to recognize that gender discrimination is a reality.
This article will review what closing the workplace gender gap means and how to do it.
Workplace Gender Equality Explained
Gender equality in the workplace simply means providing women, men, and different gender identities equal opportunities. It includes giving every gender access to available resources and fair responsibilities in the organization.
Bridging the gender gap requires a lot of effort because it means:
- Providing your employees with flexible work hours irrespective of their gender
- Ensuring every member of your team works together and collaborates equally
- Eliminating workplace discrimination so that everyone can do their work safely
- Giving everyone equal opportunities and recognition
- Ensuring employees of every gender are treated with respect and fairness
- Offering similar training and learning opportunities
- Ensuring equal pay irrespective of the gender
- Establishing strict company policies to prohibit abuse of power and sexual harassment
Benefits of Workplace Gender Equality
It’s not only employees that benefit when there is gender equality at work. Organizations benefit too in the following ways.
- There is an increased talent pool for leadership which boosts company performance.
- Promoting workplace gender equality creates an organization with more connected people, thus a safer and healthier work environment.
- There is a high level of collaboration because people are not afraid of being discriminated against when they speak up or share their ideas.
- Providing equal opportunities allows for more creativity, diverse insights, and inclusive mindsets, which are necessary when improving processes and productivity.
How to Promote Workplace Gender Equality
Reevaluate Your Recruitment Process
Inequality in the workplace starts at the hiring and recruiting stage. So if you’re determined to bridge the gender equality gap in your company, you must ensure your career page is free of discrimination.
The HR department and the entire company can eliminate small words of discrimination by shunning gender-binary pronouns of non-gender-specific terms. Instead, teams can describe jobs or roles in a gender-neutral tone and highlight all training opportunities.
Recheck the Interview Questions
A potential candidate can tell a lot about your workplace culture by simply looking at your recruitment procedures. One way of promoting workplace gender equality is by deleting gender-sensitive questions. For instance, avoid asking female candidates whether they have any plans of getting pregnant or married later. Indeed such a question reveals the interviewers’ hesitation toward working mothers.
Study Male-Female Ratio in the Company
The analysis gives you a clear picture of your workforce. For instance, 80-90% of male workers show how gender inequity is deeply engrained in your organization. This is a call to revamp your hiring and recruitment strategy.
However, you need to consider your industry before undertaking this process because some jobs are more skewed towards male workers as opposed to women. For example, mining, logistics, electrical, mechanical, architecture, and computer network are some fields that hire mostly male workers than females. Even so, your company should consider female applicants when recruiting.
Nurture a Discrimination-Free Company Culture
Over the centuries, women have been experiencing a lot of discrimination in the workplace. In fact, the major of senior-level women have experienced some form of harassment but remained silent because of the stigma attached to it.
Today, some companies have nurtured a company culture that offers women equal and fair opportunities. They have eliminated stigmas, taboos, and discrimination in the following ways.
- Promoting equal pay
- Offering everyone flexible working hours
- Providing both full time and part-time workers with fair opportunities regardless of their gender
- Training the workforce about the benefits of promoting workplace gender equality
Promote Work-Life Balance
Promoting a balance between work and personal life is very important, especially for working mothers and parents in general. Allowing such workers to work remotely or take a sabbatical leave can improve morale, engagement, trust, and loyalty which translates to higher employee satisfaction levels, enhanced productivity and increased employee retention.
Close Gender Pay Gap
Reports indicate women earn at least 19% lower than men in the same job. The gender pay gap is caused by discrimination due to stereotypical and gender-biased practices. But your company should endeavor to pay everyone an equal wage to every employee performing the same job responsibilities.
Establish a culture that tackles the root of pay inequality, and this will position your company as an advocate of women’s equality. In fact, this advocacy may inspire other brands, including your competitors, to implement gender-friendly policies.
Penalize All Gender-Based Harassment
Over the years, some men have discriminated against women, subjugated and ostracized them merely because they’re women. Some men tend to ignore the topic of workplace gender equality. As a result, such men continuously make gender-discriminatory remarks about females and LGBT.
In such a situation, the company should not entertain such individuals; instead, it should penalize all employees with an official complaint, incentive cut, contract termination, or immediate termination.
Provide Equal Training and Development opportunities
Training helps your workforce to understand your brand, products, and services. In view of that, you should provide equal learning opportunities and mentorship to employees of different gender identities in order to promote workplace gender equality.
Diversity training is crucial for a company that wants to nurture an all-inclusive culture. Aside from internal training, you can hire professionals to conduct sessions on topics like women’s rights, discrimination, and gender issues in the workplace.
Focus on Performance, Not on the Person
Employers take women who deliver as much as men or even much more seriously. This is a reality in many companies, and although this happens unconsciously, it shouldn’t happen at all. In fact, leaders should focus on the targets achieved instead of the person who achieved them.
At the same time, the management should credit the one who delivered those results, and it should be done fairly, irrespective of their gender. In the end, what matters is the delivered results but not the deliverer because they improve the company’s bottom line.
Give Women Leadership Roles
Only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, and they earn just 80% of what men take home. The problem is that some organizations prefer male candidates to women; thus, it takes longer for a woman to climb the ladder of success than their male counterparts.
However, women are great leaders. Some of them include Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Samia Suluhu Hassan, Jacinda Arden, the late Wangari Maathai, the Later Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, etc. They’re or were great leaders because they’re determined and strong-willed.
Prohibit Stereotypes in the Workplace
A great leader ensures that daily derogatory remarks about gender minorities and women are never heard in their organization. You should forbid comments such as women are gentle or too soft to handle certain tasks, it’s only men that can do this job, or are you a real woman?
Entertaining notions like women are delicate, fragile, lack negotiation abilities, or can’t handle serious clients demean women employees. Instead, the company and its leadership should empower all its workers regardless of their gender in order to promote workplace gender equality.
Conduct Exit Interviews
Progressive companies conduct exit interviews with a purpose. The company wants to learn why its employee leave. It helps the management detect any form of discrimination and take necessary measures to root it out. It also enables the company to identify the causes of employees’ disengagement, unhappiness, and disloyalty.
The organization should ask its female employees whether they have ever experienced any discrimination, sexual harassment, or abuse of power purely because they’re women. Next, the employer should act on the feedback in order to nurture a discrimination-free company.
Your employee handbook should have terms such as gender equality, equal pay, diversity, and inclusion not as fancy terms but should reflect the reality on the ground. The company should create an enabling environment, give all its employees equal training opportunities and leadership roles, penalize gender-based harassment, and prohibit stereotypes in the office.
Companies should foster workplace gender equality because it affects their performance and success. It’s an essential factor for the growth and competitiveness of any organization. Organizations that have not implemented gender equality lose out on improved decision-making, creativity, insights, ideas, skills, and much more.