Say ‘Yes’ to gender equality in the workplace!
Despite the fact that we are well into 2016, gender inequality in the workplace continues to be a key area of focus in terms of balancing the career scale. What’s surprising is that developed countries such as the UK and the US demonstrate some grim figures to date where gender inequality is concerned. We investigate the research, highlight the benefits of gender equality in the workplace, and list the steps that women and men can take to level out the playing field.
Gender equality: How the UK measures up
A recent study of workplace gender equality in 18 countries by Glassdoor shows that there are more men in the British workforce than women, although the gap is narrowed for those with university education. Researchers found that the gender pay gap rises from 7 percent for women without children, to a surprising 21 percent for working mothers, ranking worse than other countries such as Spain and Italy.
But despite the gender pay gap, the UK was shown to have a higher proportion of women in managerial positions than other countries, at 35 percent, which placed them third behind Sweden and Norway.
Benefits of gender equality in the workplace
- Business growth: Boys clubs are a thing of the past, and in order for businesses to grow, they should aim to attract employees from a diverse range of genders, cultures and backgrounds. Gender equality and diversity – in the broad sense of the word – will enable your company to be open to new ideas, concepts and mindsets, and this innovation will in turn enable your organisation to keep up with positive business trends.
- A wider demographic reach: It’s important to consider whether or not your business reflects the culture, interests and mindsets of your clientele. Employing a diverse range of professionals means that your employees will be able to relate to the variety of cultures, thoughts and opinions of individuals from all walks of life, thus expanding your demographic reach, and increasing your chance to significantly build your client base.
- Attracts a more broad workforce: If your company encourages gender equality by accommodating a diverse workforce, then job-seekers will be more inclined to seek employment within your organisation. Offering benefits such as a crèche for children and flexible working hours will open up job opportunities to more people, broaden your options, and ultimately increase your chance of hiring the best possible candidate for whatever employment vacancy you may have.
What women can do to promote gender equality in the workplace
While it may seem daunting to, on top of all your other work commitments, fight for the basic right to not be the recipient of gender discrimination in the workplace, it is possible to take significant steps towards pushing organisations to implement positive changes towards gender equality. Louisa Symington-Mills, Founder of CityMothers, offers her top tips (originally published in www.telegraph.co.uk) for women in the workforce to follow:
- Be Informed: Find out what your employer’s gender statistics are (and if they don’t release any, ask them why not) and ask them to communicate a plan for gender parity to employees
- Campaign: If your firm is being an ostrich and burying its head in the sand over this issue, make them aware. This doesn’t have to involve Suffragette-style rail-chaining; you can take time to communicate the many and very available statistics on the benefits of gender diversity for employer and employee, as well as solutions: training recruiters against unconscious bias, and open attitudes to flexible working.
- Network: Use strategic networking to increase your profile and your gender equality agenda within your firm. Attending internal events can be a great way to gain face-time with senior management to share your views. And if there aren’t any events? Plan one yourself.
- Get Involved: Seek backing from HR and senior executives to launch an equality committee with responsibility for monitoring change and reporting progress firm-wide.
And lets not forget about the men, and their role in supporting and encouraging gender equality. You too have a part to play in quest for for gender equality in the workplace. Men can level out the playing field through simple steps that include, but are not limited to, taking parental leave, being aware of and addressing double standards in language, and avoiding 'Boy's Club' style panels.
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