Women at work often face gender discrimination. Read on for 9 ways you can support female equality in the workplace.
According to a report from PwC, 45% of women believe their gender, sexuality, or ethnic background could be a barrier to their career progression, while less than half of the women surveyed believe that their company is doing enough to combat gender inequality. Although there are more women in leadership roles than ever, they are still vastly underrepresented at every level. Employers can – and should – do more to empower their female workforce and ensure gender equality in the office. Here are 9 ways to get started.
Hire More Women
Launching initiatives to support women in the workplace is mutually beneficial to employees and employers. Studies have shown that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform their peers. A study by the International Finance Corporation reveals that investing in women’s employment leads to higher levels of business performance and productivity. Diverse hiring also means that companies will have access to an increased pool of skill sets and helps to strengthen team dynamics.
Close the Gender Pay Gap
One of the most prevalent issues standing in the way of gender equality in the workplace is the pay gap between men and women. Recent data from the Census Bureau revealed that, on average, women earned only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. Each position should have a salary bracket to ensure that whoever fills that role is paid fairly, regardless of gender. Addressing the pay gap can help to attract and retain female talent and promotes diversity, equality, and trust within the workplace culture.
Give Women Opportunities
Statistics show that working women represent 40% of the global workforce. However, the International Labor Organisation estimates that nearly half (48%) of their productive potential remains unutilised as compared to the male population (22%). Investing in women’s skills and encouraging them to pursue promotions, raises, challenging assignments, and leadership opportunities can help empower them and set them up for future success, as well as inspire others who are looking to move up the ladder.
Listen to Women
Women deserve to be heard in the workplace. Provide women with an opportunity to raise their voices, consider their opinions, and make sure they are represented in decision-making. If you see others interrupting or undermining women, step in; in order to be a champion for women, you have to be proactive in calling out negative behaviour. Having open channels of communication and encouraging active participation can unite the workplace, create a welcoming environment, and promote productivity.
Research from the University of Delaware has found that women typically receive less credit for speaking up in the workplace than their male counterparts. Because women are given less credit, and often give themselves less credit, they are less confident in their ability and therefore unlikely to step forward for promotions and challenging assignments. It is important to empower women by actively looking for opportunities to acknowledge their contributions and making sure they get the recognition they deserve for good ideas.
Provide Equal Mentorship to Women
The key to supporting equality in the workplace is to give men and women equal opportunities to succeed. On average, women are not afforded the high-quality mentorship that can help them excel in their careers – and are even less likely to be connected to the influential people and key decision-makers that can advocate for them. Many companies with mentorship programs also tend to separate pairs by gender and, in companies with fewer women in senior-level positions, they are often spread too thin to offer mentorship to women in need.
Offer Equal Paternity Care and Flexibility
According to PwC, 42% of women said they were nervous about what having a child would do to their careers. A significant challenge that prevents women from career advancement is the lack of childcare support from their employers. Offering equal paternal leave or the option of remote working offers flexibility to working mothers and allows fathers to be more actively involved in childcare. In order to promote female equality in the workplace, companies should work towards building a flexible workplace that minimises burdens on mothers.
Adopt a ‘Zero Tolerance’ Approach to Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a rampant problem in the workplace: the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that in 2015, nearly a third of the complaints received included an allegation of sexual harassment – but that’s not all. An estimated 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported. Overlooking or mishandling sexual harassment not only affects individuals, but also indicates that the company does not take matters of harassment seriously. Women deserve a safe workplace – one that works to identify, prevent, and take action against these types of behaviour.
Address Your Biases
Many of us have unconscious biases – but it can be difficult to confront them. Oftentimes, companies have underlying biases in which policies are skewed to favour men, making it difficult for women to accelerate their career. An international Harvard study found that 76% of all people had an implicit gender bias, believing that men are better suited for careers and women were better suited to be homemakers. It is therefore important for a company to re-examine its implicit bias in order to make fairer decisions and impartial company policies.
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