What is gender equality in the workplace?
Gender equality in the workplace means employees of all genders have access to the same rewards, opportunities and resources at a company, including:
- Equal pay and benefits for comparable roles with similar responsibilities
- Equal opportunities for promotions and career progression
- Equal consideration of needs
Benefits of gender equality in the workplace
There are numerous benefits for companies who are intentional about maintaining gender equality in the workplace, including the following:
- Positive company culture. A gender-equal work environment where all employees feel respected and valued creates an overall more positive workplace for all of your employees. When you have a gender-diverse environment, your employees will likely notice that their coworkers have talents and strengths they don’t possess themselves. The appreciation for these differences will help promote an environment of respect among the team.
- More innovation and creativity. People of different genders bring unique talents, strengths and skills into the workplace, which can improve collaboration and result in a stimulating and creative environment. In fact, companies often find that a gender diversity can lead to greater innovation within the workplace.
- Build a great reputation. By being intentional about promoting gender equality in the workplace, you’ll foster a great company reputation with the outside world. People who have similar values will want to work for you, and with happy employees you’ll have a positive and productive workforce.
- Improved conflict resolution. Strong communication skills among employees is essential for company-wide success. People of different genders naturally communicate differently, with some preferring to communicate problems directly and others work as peacemakers. When you combine these different communication styles in one work environment, you can more easily achieve conflict resolution.
Components of gender inequality in the workplace
Men and women alike may face issues regarding gender inequality in the workplace, although women typically deal with it more often than men. Gender inequality in the workplace can be identified by these components:
The gender pay gap continues to be a large part of gender inequality in the workplace. The pay gap is characterized by one gender being paid less to do the same job as the other gender. Usually, women are paid less than men even if they hold the same positions, have similar work experience and educational backgrounds. Based on 2019 Census data, women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men.
In addition to the pay gap, there’s also a gender leadership gap. Many women are often passed up for promotion opportunities in the workplace due in part to gender discrimination. Data shows that there are enough qualified women to fill existing leadership positions, but gender bias may be keeping women from progressing to these positions.
To address this at your company, support internal growth opportunities for all employees, widen your recruitment networks and examine your biases.
Male employers often prefer hiring male employees, and hiring managers are more likely to click on a male application profile instead of a woman’s. In one gender experiment, when a male employer was making a hiring decision, women had only a 40% chance of getting hired. This means that women are at a disadvantage from the start of the hiring process —even if they have the same skills, experience and qualifications.
Gender inclusion in the workplace varies depending on the business. However, excluding an individual from team projects, company outings, meetings and necessary decision-making because of gender falls within the realm of gender inequality. When an individual is not being included in tasks or events, it can prevent them from becoming successful and productive workers.
How to promote gender equality in the workplace
Here are some steps you may take to begin promoting gender equality in your workplace:
1. Increase diversity in hiring
Start by modifying your job descriptions to promote gender equality. Review your job descriptions and assess whether your job requirements need to be altered to broaden the pool of applicants. For example, if a position currently requires 15 years of experience, consider if 10 years of experience would be sufficient. You can also evaluate whether other types of experiences or education could qualify applicants for more senior-level positions.
It’s also a good idea to think carefully about the language you use in your job postings. For example, certain words like “assertive” and “dominant” may attract more men than women.
If you have a hiring panel, make sure that it’s gender diverse. Ensure that you also have fair compensation practices and use employee exit interviews to get honest feedback from employees about their perception of gender equality in the workplace.
Related: Gender Pronouns in the Workplace
2. Review equal pay laws
Review the federal equal pay law, and then review state laws, if necessary. Many laws state that employers are required to provide equal pay for equal work, which includes the same skill, responsibility, working conditions and effort. Note any areas of improvement you can identify in your business regarding equal pay for equal work, and develop your policy relating to equal pay in your code of conduct.
3. Begin a pay audit
Next, consider conducting a pay audit to see if your male and female employees are paid comparably. This may help you identify if you offer equal employment opportunities to all employees. The best way to do this is to seek help from an HR professional, outside source or to do it yourself using a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet you use to conduct the audit should have sections for employment positions, education, performance and experience to help you notice gender pay gaps.
When you become aware of gender pay gaps, take steps to remedy them as soon as possible.
4. Consider updating your training
You should then consider reviewing your training on gender discrimination and inequality. Check your current training programs to see if they’re informative and detailed enough to make an impact on the behavior of your employees. Another option to consider is to make gender inequality training mandatory once a year. This way, the information is at the forefront of your employees’ minds and can more easily be reflected in their actions.
Hold regular refresher courses for management to ensure your company provides a great working environment for everyone.
5. Revise pay secrecy policies
Pay secrecy policies may lead to discrepancies with the gender pay gap, and in some cases, may be illegal. The more employees discuss salary information, the more aware they may become of gender inequalities in the workplace.
Additionally, consider publishing salary data. Recording and sharing salary information with employees can help to assure your workforce that everyone is being paid fairly and that gender pay equality is a priority. Some companies publish pay brackets that outline the salary for each role along with the general requirements for the position. This step can help eliminate any bias.
6. Promote work-life balance
Parents can find it challenging to reach career goals because of the challenges that come with working while raising a family. To relieve stress for working parents, some companies offer parental leave for both mothers and fathers.
Workplace flexibility is also something many people look for when evaluating whether they want to work for a company. This option is especially appealing for parents who may need flexibility to better balance a career and raising children. Many companies are addressing this by offering employees the option to work from home part-time or full-time or by giving them the option of telecommuting.
7. Create an open-minded atmosphere
Promote a culture where employees know they are appreciated based on their talent and performance. This starts at the managerial level. Get to know team members on a personal level, regardless of their gender or background. This will deepen your appreciation for differences and promote a welcoming, inclusive work environment.
8. Provide mentorship for everyone
An experienced mentor can be invaluable for helping employees navigate their careers. Consider implementing a mentorship program in your own organization and making it open to everyone. While pairing employees of the same gender can be useful for offering insight into how to manage work-life balance — such as pairing a new mother with a mother in a leadership position — companies should also consider pairing employees with a senior manager of the opposite gender.
9. Keep accurate documentation
Lastly, document each employee’s qualifications, pay, position, education and work experience. There are many times when an employee may deserve to be paid more, however, employers are responsible for making these distinctions based on concrete evidence.