Gender inequality in the workplace has restricted economies from rising exponentially. If women are not integrated into the workforce as seamlessly as men are, then the world stands to lose on skills, expertise, diverse perspective, improved decision making amongst others, all of which are extremely important to tackle today’s complex global issues and make the most of future opportunities.
Some of the reforms that companies can adopt, directly or indirectly to benefit society.
1. Amending recruitment practices - In case of hiring for a senior management position, remove all barriers preventing women from applying to the role. If barriers exist, teams must identify what these barriers are and ensure they are reviewed. This doesn’t mean the requirements of the job have to change but a simple gender neutral application process will encourage more women applicants. Having a gender balance in the interview panel will also go a long way in establishing the right culture.
2. Eliminating the pay gap - Gender pay discrimination has existed since women started working. To ensure an equitable future, each role must have a budget and there should be transparency in salary slabs with final offers factoring the salary regardless of gender. This establishes trust and eliminates pay discrimination. Regular audits must also be conducted to ensure pay is on par with the value of work. Although this is very obvious, the pay gap is very deep-rooted in our minds and our societies and will continue to persist. A part of the problem is women often accept the pay given to them rather than demanding equal pay, due to historic trends and stereotypes. Companies and small businesses, in developed and developing countries, still finding it difficult to ensure equal pay to both genders.
3. Work-Life balance - According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), women perform 76.2 percent of the total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men. Companies must come forward and support working mothers by providing relevant childcare support, grant paternal leave and allowing sufficient time off. This will relieve stress and also give women a chance to focus on their careers, it will also allow fathers to spend more time in child upbringing. Work-life balance is crucial to maintain a healthy working environment. In the view of the pandemic, flexible work arrangements can boost productivity and also instill a greater sense of belongingness to the company.
4. Stopping harassment - Workplace harassment must be identified and stopped. It’s management’s primary responsibility to ensure action is taken against offenders. Sadly, in most cases, a blind eye is turned. Harassment of any sort i.e., sexual harassment, bullying, racism should be identified, reported and corrective action needs to be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Ignorance of harassment is a clear indication of gender inequality in the organization. Ownership must be taken and women too should play their part by reporting harassment.
5. Creating an open atmosphere - Gender equality cannot be fought only by one gender. Management, senior leaders should come together to create an open atmosphere where bias doesn’t exist. If departments promote or do nothing about gender equality then it’s likely that the company isn’t going to do too well. Employees need to be appreciated for their skills, talent, and knowledge, nothing else. Management should also be open to hearing from employees’ suggestions and views about gender equality and implement them if found reasonable. Remember, we all have to come together to fight the gender equality battle.
The start of this decade is a new phase for gender equality. The need for change and the need for equality will fuel progress. The #Metoo movement was a great example of how women came out and spoke about their traumatic experiences. We must embrace change to enable women to be active participants in the workforce.