What your workplace can do to promote gender equality at work
We’re making progress with gender equality in the workplace. But unfortunately, it is way too slow.
Currently, women in Australia face a staggering pay gap of 14 per cent, meaning they are taking home, on average, $253 less than men every week. Gender stereotypes, sexism and societal expectations regarding gender roles mean women face barriers at work every single day.
When explaining this inequality, the social narrative tends to blame women.
Women choose to ‘opt-out’ of high-powered careers to stay at home.
Women use too many family accommodations like flex time or reduced hours.
Women in powerful positions undermine and hold back other women colleagues.
But women aren’t to blame for workplace inequality. It’s businesses and the systematic structural inequality embedded within them that are.
At RD Consulting, women make up 70 per cent of our workforce, so here are a few of our suggestions on what your workplace can do to promote gender equality in your workplace.
1. Remove the gender pay gap
The gender pay gap exists for several reasons – and one of them is a tendency for companies to ask employees to negotiate their own salaries.
The reality is that women have been socially conditioned to be reluctant to advocate for themselves, and in the workplace, this translates to negotiating pay.
So, when advertising for a job, ensure you include a pay bracket that outlines the salary for the role.
2. Implement a flexible work policy
A flexible work policy makes your workplace fairer for all employees. While times are changing, women still disproportionately take on more caring responsibilities outside of work than men – whether it’s caring for children, elderly family members, or running households.
This means women sometimes pass up on opportunities for additional paid work, advancement or personal development.
Implementing flexible work policies can make all the difference for people facing these extra pressures at home.
3. Rethink your interview process
When interviewing candidates for a particular role, ask them all the same questions, phrased in the same way. Often, it is just women who are asked about the number of hours they can work – a question rooted in gendered societal expectations.
You can also ensure your interview panel has mixed genders. This will help you to reduce or avoid hiring biases that could seep through subconsciously if the panel is not mixed.
4. Consider your biases
In the recruitment process, hiring managers should circulate unnamed resumes to avoid any conscious or subconscious gender discrimination that might surface if candidates are identifiable by gender.
5. Re-evaluate job specifications for senior management
When looking to promote someone within the workforce into senior management – or even when bringing someone externally on board, think about the barriers your workplace might be building that stops women from applying for the role.
This doesn’t mean that position requirements need to change. But it does mean that 15 years of management experience could be adjusted if 10 would suffice.
6. Implement quotas for senior leadership
A recent study found that women hold just 16.9% of board seats globally. This is an increase of 1.9% since 2017. However, if this rate remains steady, it will take over 30 years before there’s gender parity in board rooms. Further, globally, women hold only 4.4% of CEO positions and 12.7% of CFO roles.
As gender equality in leadership won’t happen on its own, consider implementing gender quotas for senior leadership. Evidence suggests that not only does this increase representation, but there are trickle-down effects of gender diversity into lower levels of organisations too.
7. Confront workplace sexual harassment
Take a hardline, zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment in the workplace. Listen to people coming forward with complaints, organise sexual harassment training for your workplace and talk to Human Resources about implementing harassment policies.
Remember, gender equality in the workplace is achieved when everyone has access to the same opportunities, resources and rewards. There’s a lot we can do to address inequality at work and while this list was short – and certainly not conclusive – it’s a good place to start.
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