Spain, 31/6/2022

GENDER EQUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE

Why is gender diversity important in every workplace?

With the rapidly changing social climate and as the new generations are becoming more ‘woke’ by the second, a lot of businesses realised that many changes should be made to their policies and management approaches to keep up with the current social changes. Hiring managers are now aware that sticking to the old hiring norms can cost the company a lot in regards to skills, profit and reputation. In almost all job ads nowadays you will find a disclaimer at the end stating that this company is “an equal opportunity employer” and that all applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, religion, or gender. Diversity and inclusion have become imperative. To succeed, they should be an integral part of every company’s organisational culture. Gender diversity and inclusion are now a top priority to a lot of companies, the small ones and the big corporate names.

What is Gender diversity in the workplace?

Gender diversity in the workplace means that men and women are hired at a comparable rate, paid evenly, and given the same working opportunities with equal promotions. Although women continue to be a large part of the workforce, there are still male-dominated careers and male-dominated industries. These numbers are changing, albeit slowly. The male-dominated industries can include science, farming, manufacturing software development, tech, finance, medicine, among others. These fields have been male-dominated for so long, that women had-and still have- a hard time penetrating these fields and proving themselves worthy of employment. And even though there are many examples for very successful women in these fields, the female representation in them remains very minimal when compared to their male counterparts.

Why do women still face challenges in some male-dominated fields?

There are many reasons why women face challenges in the male-dominated fields, including : Societal beliefs and stereotypes about women’s leadership abilities Lack of mentoring Lack of career development opportunities Harassment Societal expectation of women’s role in society. The added pressure of monitoring and scrutinising women’s performance The “boy’s club” mentality of some management teams. Lack of respect/trust from co-workers, managers and clients. These challenges hinder lots of women from making progress in their careers, and forces them to stick to certain fields or certain jobs. These challenges can also affect the attitude of the female employees in the workplace. The constant feeling of being unseen, unheard, under-appreciated and not trusted can affect women’s performances, leading to even further discrimination and doubt. This type of discrimination creates lots of grudges between the employees, creating a toxic workplace and an unhealthy work environment. Additionally, it is very common in these fields to find wage gaps. And the harsh truth is, some women don’t know how much their male counterparts are being paid, so they are not aware of the wage gap. Also, due to the unsafe and unsupportive work environments, some women don’t know how to approach the topic of pay inequality with their managers and supervisors.

Why is gender balance important in every workplace?

Providing inclusive workplaces that don’t see gender as a qualification for a job has lots of benefits. For instance, It maximises the opportunity for growth and profit as it capitalises on all available skills and talents regardless of gender. Workplaces that don’t strive to create gender balance in the workplace, miss out on lots of ideas, opportunities, and market segments by limiting themselves to only one gender. That’s why a lot of big corporations, as well as startups, are working on creating organisational cultures and policies that enhance the employment and integration of all talents regardless of their gender.

Benefits of gender diversity in the workplace: 

  1. Variety of perspectives and ideas: Having women and men on a team equally creates a diverse pool of ideas and perspectives that will benefit the company and boost its success and access to markets and customers.
  2. Access to a wider pool of talents: Nowadays, the work environment is as important to job seekers as the salary. In a research done by PwC, 85% of millennial females said that the diversity profile of a company is very important for them when they look for new opportunities. So, creating a gender-diverse workplace backed up by policies that regulate and enhance such diversity is in itself a powerful recruitment tool that will attract a wider pool of talents to your company.
  3. Staff retention: Staff retention is one of the most pressing issues facing many businesses. Gender diversity, inclusion, and providing a safe working environment where everyone is treated equally will increase staff retention.
  4. Creativity in Problem-solving: Having a diverse workplace will boost problem-solving skills and increase the creativity of the proposed solutions. As diversity provides the opportunity of benefiting from diverse experiences, knowledge, backgrounds, and skills.
  5. Improving company reputation: Being an inclusive employer that provides equal recruitment opportunities and a diverse workplace will reflect the positive values of the company and boost its reputation in the recruitment marketplace. It will also drive good talents to the company, resulting in great improvements of performance and quality.
  6. Better customer targeting: Having representation for all the potential customers of the product or service in the company team , will give the company a great edge. Studying customers’ needs and behaviour is crucial for the success of the product/service, so having a diverse team facilitates the access to new or existing markets by utilising the knowledge of the team.
  7. Better product design: Successful products or services are those that appeal to the target customers and satisfy their needs, the more diverse the team is, the more exposure the company gets to customer needs. So having a diverse inclusive team will improve the quality of all the products and services of the company because it relies on realistic customer personas represented in each member of the team.
  8. Greater profitability: There is a lot of evidence that gender diversity has a positive impact on profitability.According to McKinsey, the most gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

How can companies be more gender-inclusive?

  1. Policies: It’s important to make sure that all company policies protect, serve and direct all employees equally with no hidden biases or favouritism. The company should have clear policies that ensure gender diversity in the workplace, as well as ensure equal opportunities of work for both genders, eliminating any possibility of biases in things like: bonuses, appraisals, learning opportunities and promotions. Policies should also clearly state the consequences of not following them.
  2. Equal pay: The payment for each and every position should be determined based on the skills and knowledge and not on gender. If a man or woman are with the same sets of skills and are doing the same job, they should have the same salary.
  3. Flexibility: The company should be flexible enough to accommodate all genders and ensure equal opportunities for all employees, so as to eliminate all gender challenges, such as working hours and maternity leaves.
  4. Same working opportunities: Work and tasks should be distributed equally to all employees regardless of gender.  All employees should have equal access to opportunities for growth, bonuses, and promotions.
  5. Hire for qualifications not quota: Hiring women just to fill a quota can cause a serious drop in morale which will affect productivity and performance. Women should always be hired for their qualifications, knowledge, and skills, not just to fill a number.
  6. Offer training: Knowledge is the first step to acceptance and inclusion. Training plans should be created for the teams  with clear learning objectives and offer training about gender diversity, inclusion, creating a safe working environment…etc.
  7. Always have an open door: Every employer should make sure that employees know who they can turn to if they face any issue, and alway work on creating a tolerant environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to talk and share the challenges they face openly.
  8. Create a safe space: Dedicating time and effort to create a safe space at work is essential. A safe space is a space where everyone feels seen and heard, it is a space where employees can share what is on their mind, express themselves and be themselves without worrying about being judged or losing their jobs.
  9. Inclusion in communication: To achieve a gender inclusive workplace, it is essential to ensure that all communications and written materials are written in an inclusive manner, addressing all employees equally. All employees should be represented in the visual materials of the company-if any- to enhance the feeling of belonging and ownership. 

Even though there has been a lot of attention to gender diversity and inclusion, many businesses are yet to end their gender biases and the wage gap. The road to gender inclusion, gender equality, and equal pay is still long and needs a lot of work from all parties involved. According to multiple pieces of research, gender equality and inclusion can have a very positive effect on performance and profit. So it is time that businesses start recognising the importance of gender equality and equal pay, and work on embedding this into their policies and organisational cultures. And it is important to recognise diversity and inclusion requires continuous efforts from all the parties involved, so as to achieve equal and inclusive workplaces that provide equal opportunities and resources to its employees regardless of their gender.

Read more about women’s experience working in male-dominated fields in this article

Heba Khaled

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