Tackling Gender Challenges in the Workplace
While we’ve made headway in our fight against gender inequality, the struggle is far from over. Gender-based discrimination still happens.
In fact, it’s most apparent in settings where we spend the most time. That includes the workplace.
Some of the statistics showing gender parity in the workplace that has not yet come to full fruition include:
- Women are 24% more susceptible to losing their jobs compared to men.
- Less than half (47%) of women participate in the labor force compared to 74% of men.
- Women spend more time on unpaid work compared to men.
- Mothers are less likely to be employed compared to their male counterparts or women without children.
- Women representation decreases the higher you go in the corporate hierarchy.
- Women from OECD countries earn than their male counterparts.
These facts and figures tell us that we have a long way to go in our goal of achieving equality in the workplace.
Biggest Gender Challenges in the Workplace
To address workplace gender inequality, we have to zero in on the usual areas in which the problem manifests. They include:
Cisgender (Cis) men are at an advantage over other gender identities from the get-go. This results from male employers’ bias for hiring men.
Even hiring managers are more inclined to check out the profile of a male applicant compared to a woman’s.
According to a gender experiment, women have only a 40% chance of getting hired if the person in charge of the process is a man.
If a woman, or anyone belonging to other gender identities other than cis (a term that means whatever gender you are now is the same as what was presumed for you at birth) man, gets hired, the next thing they need to contend with is the gender pay gap.
For instance, in the, women receive only 82 cents for every dollar received by their male counterparts. That’s true even with the same position, work experience, and educational background.
Another gender challenge in the workplace manifests in the process of promoting employees. This is called the gender leadership gap. It means cis men have more access to career growth opportunities compared to other gender identities.
For example, while data show that there are enough qualified women to assume leadership roles, only a few of them get to advance to these privileged positions. This is directly attributed to gender bias, with employers and HR leaders thinking that men are a more practical choice for promotion.
This refers to the level of access and degree of opportunities an employee receives, which will help them grow in a company in both personal and professional terms.
For example, excluding certain gender identities from participating in critical decision-making processes accounts for discrimination. Even a non-official event that is off-limits to women because it's a boy’s club situation represents obsolete notions of a specific gender’s supremacy over others.
Best Ways to Promote Workplace Gender Equality
After distinguishing the areas of concern contributing to workplace gender inequality, the next order of business is coming up with viable solutions. Here are some of them.
1. Diversify recruitment
Start with thoughtful job descriptions. Make sure they are inclusive. Get rid of words or statements that give the impression of bias for specific gender identity. Think words like “dominant” and “aggressive.”
Be mindful of superfluous requirements, too. Case in point: will there be any difference if the 15-year experience requirement gets reduced to 10 years? This simple adjustment might make the job vacancy more accessible to a more diverse pool of applicants.
2. Include gender equality questions in exit interviews
Exit interviews are an excellent way to gauge employee experience. After all, resigned employees don’t have much reason to sugarcoat their feedback. They will be honest, and that honesty is something HR and managers could maximize.
By introducing gender equality-focused questions in exit interviews, an opportunity opens for reassessing how policies and on-floor realities align.
3. Close the gender pay gap
Review equal pay laws within your organization. Gauge its level of compliance by conducting a pay audit. This audit should encompass all names under the company payroll, regardless of the title they hold.
After the audit, carry out necessary changes on remuneration policies. Make these changes transparent by including them in the company’s code of conduct.
Everyone—regardless of gender—should be on the same page.
4. Get rid of pay secrecy policies
Pay secrecy policies are, at best, detrimental to workplace culture and, at worst, illegal.
Pay transparency conveys that a company does uphold gender equality and does not have to hide to anyone how everybody else is getting paid.
5. Conduct gender equality training
Policies are for naught if employees and managers don’t take them to heart. One way to embed these policies into everyone’s consciousness is via aggressive and impactful training.
Reinforce training with one-on-one mentoring sessions.
6. Promote work-life balance
Offer parental leave for both fathers and mothers. And encourage new parents to use those leaves with neither guilt nor shame. This policy levels the playing field between men and women, especially those who plan to start a family.
7. Enforce accurate documentation
The HR staff should make it a point that all relevant documents about an employee’s performance and contributions to the company are properly stored and, when necessary, thoroughly appraised. These documents will anchor decisions on pay increases and promotions.
Gender equality in the workplace yields serious advantages. For starters, it results in a company culture that’s free of toxicity. With no one feeling left out, or worse, discriminated against on account of their gender identities, the professional and personal dynamics between colleagues improve. Conflict resolution becomes easier to carry out, which is excellent for managers.
And most importantly, a genuinely collaborative experience happens between employees, which, in turn, fosters shared growth and creativity. All of these contribute to improved productivity across the board—not to mention reduced turnover.
Furthermore, a workplace that champions gender equality is beneficial for a company’s branding. That’s because these days, progressive policies are well respected. Fighting against gender discrimination in the workplace puts a company on the right side of history. And that will always be aspirational, regardless of the industry a business operates.