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Whether you’re an employee or employer it is essential to know that gender inequality continues to exist in the workplace and how to improve it. In fact, a recent study discovered that women are underrepresented at all levels. Only 79 women receive promotions to manager, compared to every 100 men and despite the fact women earn more bachelor’s degrees than men, they’re less likely to land entry-level jobs.
- Gender equality is your right. Don't settle for less.
- Be the change you wish to see
- It all starts with one step
The Importance of Gender Equality at Work
Put simply, gender equality is when everyone has equal rights, opportunities, responsibilities, and access in an organization, regardless of their gender. It means that every individual feels safe to pursue jobs without worrying about discrimination and everyone is treated with the utmost fairness and respect. There are a number of reasons gender equality at work is important including:
- Stronger Economy: In many cases, women spend a lot of time on unpaid work such as childcare and housekeeping. When they do so, they’re unable to bring their talents to the table. Research shows that if more women were motivated to fully participate in paid work due to gender equality, the economy would improve significantly. It is also important for everyone to consider how to close the gender pay gap.
- Greater Productivity: Gender equality can create a more productive workplace. If women had more opportunities to get paid fairly for their work, they’d help businesses get more accomplished in shorter periods of time.
- Increased Innovation: Creating a culture of gender equality motivates both women and men to think out-of-the-box. This innovation can take businesses to new heights.
- Happier Employees: When employees know that everyone is being treated equally, they feel good about coming to work day in and day out. Happier employees tend to stick around for much longer than those who are unsatisfied.
- Improved Quality of Life: If more women choose to work because of gender equality, they may feel a greater sense of fulfillment in their lives. They might also enjoy a more balanced lifestyle as their partners would be more likely to help with childcare and housekeeping duties.
- Diverse Viewpoints: It’s important for businesses to look at various topics from different perspectives. If all employees have the same background and experiences, they may miss out. Gender equality enables diverse thinking, which can do wonders for an organization’s culture and profitability. In addition, encouraging women entrepreneurs can bring diversity to the business market.
- Positive Reputations: Employers who value and embrace gender equality are sure to earn a positive reputation. This reputation can attract skilled employees and encourage customers to buy from them, ultimately improving their bottom line.
How to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace
Fortunately, there are several ways to promote gender equality in the workplace. Here are several options.
Alter Hiring Practices
All too often hiring practices involve some form of conscious or unconscious gender bias. It’s a good idea for employers to change their hiring practices and cater to a gender-diverse workplace.
To do so, hiring managers who perform initial resume screenings shouldn’t be aware of the candidates’ genders. It’s in their best interest to implement a structured interview style and ask each candidate the same set of questions. If they’d like to get a feel for a candidate’s personality or skills, they can require a personality or skills test. In addition, including both males and females in the interview process can minimize hiring biases.
Consider Both Men and Women for Leadership Roles
Both men and women have the potential to thrive as leaders. As long as an individual is motivated, experienced, and hard working, they deserve a higher level position, regardless of their gender.
Employers should make an effort to diversify their leadership teams. When more women are leaders, gender equality inadvertently improves across the board. A diverse leadership team can also motivate entry-level and mid-level employees to work harder as it shows them there is potential for them to move up.
Prioritize Equal Pay
According to the Department of Labor, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. It’s essential that employers ensure that male and female employees receive equal pay for work that’s equal in terms of skill, effort, working conditions, or level of responsibility.
One way to promote equal pay is to be transparent about salaries and hourly wages. Transparency can give employees the peace of mind of knowing nobody is getting paid more or less because of their gender. Employers may make this information public or restrict it to their internal employees.
Support a Healthy Work-Life Balance
While a work-life balance is important for everyone, it’s particularly vital for women who are also mothers or have other caregiving responsibilities. If employers make it known that they value a healthy work-life balance, more women are likely to not only join their organization but stay there for quite some time.
It’s important for employers to offer flexible schedules and remote work opportunities, if possible. Paid time off as well as paid maternity and paternity leave should also be a part of employees’ compensation plans. It’s also wise for employers to create part-time or freelance roles that would appeal to women (and men) who are unable to commit to full-time positions.
To break stereotypes and foster a culture of gender equality, employers might want to consider educating employees. They may create formal seminars and workshops or simply reward or praise female employees who perform just as well as their male counterparts. Knowledge is power and the more your employees know about the importance of gender equality in the workplace, the more likely they are to practice it.
Don’t Tolerate Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
Gender discrimination and harassment can take a serious toll on productivity, cohesion, and company culture. If an employer continually overlooks or simply tolerates these issues in the workplace, greater gender inequality and turnover is bound to occur. For this reason, employers should implement a zero tolerance policy for gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
It’s crucial that this policy is clearly outlined in the employee handbook and enforced to new and veteran employees. It needs to explain the consequences that will arise if an employee does engage in gender discrimination and sexual harassment. These may be salary or incentive cuts or immediate termination. There should also be a process to easily report such mistreatment to human resources without the fear of retribution.
Mentorship is an effective way to build confidence in all employees. Employers can establish formal mentorship programs, create connections by supporting women owned business or encourage informal conversations between employees in their organization. Both professional and personal connections may result in strong relationships that can advance the careers of various employees.
Gender Equality is Attainable
While the U.S. still has a long way to go, it is possible to improve gender equality in the workplace. As long as employers understand its importance and take appropriate measures to promote it, men and women will enjoy happier, healthier workplaces down the road.
One can also take initiative and work to reduce gender imbalance by starting their own venture. Taking advantage of Small Business Loans for Women and becoming a small business owner can provide you with the opportunity to build a business incorporating gender equal guidelines from the very beginning.
If you’re a woman who would prefer to start your own venture rather than find an employer that supports gender equality, explore Biz2credit, which offers the best business loans for women. With Biz2credit, you can expect a streamlined application process, high borrowing limits, and fast funding. Best of luck with your small business!