What is gender equality?
Gender equality in the workplace is about creating a fair and level playing field for all employees, regardless of their gender identity. This means making sure that female employees have the same opportunities, rights, and treatment as their male counterparts, and the same goes for any gender identity or expression, as well as any employees from minority groups.
We've defined some key terms you might find useful below, in the context of gender equality:
Gender diversity: Embracing gender diversity goes beyond mere representation—it's about valuing and celebrating the unique perspectives of individuals of all genders. By fostering an environment that embraces gender diversity, companies enrich their workplace culture and promote inclusivity and respect for everyone.
Gender bias: Gender bias refers to the unfair treatment or prejudice against people based on their gender. Addressing gender bias is important for promoting equality and creating an environment where all employees are treated fairly and judged based on their skills and abilities rather than stereotypes or assumptions.
Gender inequality: Gender inequality refers to the disparities and injustices that exist between cis-gendered men and all other genders in various aspects of life, including the workplace. This can manifest in the form of unequal pay, limited opportunities for advancement, and systemic barriers that hinder career progression.
Gender inequities: Gender inequities refer to the unfair or unjust treatment experienced by individuals due to their gender. This can include discriminatory practices, harassment, and exclusionary policies that perpetuate inequality and disadvantage certain groups based on their gender identity.
Gender identity: Gender equality recognises and respects individuals' gender identities, whether they identify as male, female, or non-binary. Creating an inclusive workplace means acknowledging and accommodating the diverse identities of all employees, ensuring that everyone feels safe, valued, and supported.
Why is it important at work?
Gender equality isn't just a moral imperative; it's also important for business success. Here are five ways promoting gender equality benefits companies:
- Attracting the best people: Companies that prioritise a culture of gender equality are more attractive to diverse talent pools, increasing their ability to recruit and retain top talent.
- Driving innovation and creativity: Diverse teams bring a variety of perspectives and ideas to the table, driving innovation and creativity.
- Improving reputation: Companies known for promoting gender equality, and inclusive workplaces generally, build a positive reputation as fair and inclusive employers, earning trust from customers, investors, and the wider community.
- Improving employee satisfaction: An equitable workplace leads to higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement, boosting productivity and retention.
- Creating a positive and happy work environment: Addressing the lack of awareness surrounding gender issues is essential for creating a safe and healthy work environment. Working to eliminate gender-based discrimination fosters a culture of respect, ensuring that all employees feel valued and supported.
Remember, it's not only gender equality that is important in our workplaces. Building diverse workplaces for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQ+ people, and people from different socio-economic backgrounds, is crucial in creating an authentically inclusive organisation that supports all employees.
Five ways to promote gender equality in the workplace
1. Get rid of the gender pay gap
Ensuring fair pay is crucial for promoting gender equality in the workplace. Here's what your company can do to get there:
Strict policy: Implement clear policies and conduct regular pay audits to identify and rectify gender pay gaps.
Transparency: Communicate openly about pay practices and salary structures to foster trust and accountability.
Equal opportunities: Provide equal access to training, mentorship, and advancement opportunities regardless of gender.
Performance-based pay: Base pay increases and bonuses on objective performance metrics to minimise bias.
Continuous monitoring: Regularly check on pay practices and adjust policies as needed to address emerging disparities you see.
2. Focus on outcomes
When working towards gender equality, it's important to shift focus onto the work your employees are putting in, without judging the work based on who produced it. Through prioritising employee engagement and establishing equitable performance review systems, companies can cultivate a merit-based culture where individuals are acknowledged and rewarded based on their actual contributions.
3. Create a supportive atmosphere
To champion gender equality, companies need to confront gender discrimination and unconscious biases head-on. This is incredibly hard to do, as unlike overt gender discrimination, unconscious bias is subtle, but it can have as significant an impact on the people who are on the other side of it. By actively involving women and individuals from minority genders in decision-making processes and providing unconscious bias training to the wider team, your company can pave the way for an inclusive environment where current employees can bring their full and best selves to work.
4. Look at your hiring process
An inclusive hiring process is essential for promoting gender equality from the outset. By offering gender equality training to hiring managers, ensuring diverse representation on interview panels, and being transparent about salary details, companies can attract a diverse talent pool. It will also be great for employee retention down the road.
5. Prioritise flexible working hours
Encouraging work-life balance and flexible work arrangements play a big role in advancing gender equality. By catering to employees' childcare needs and offering both maternal and paternal leave options, companies demonstrate their commitment to supporting a healthy balance between work and personal life. Flexible work arrangements, especially for caregiving responsibilities, empower women and non-binary employees to manage their professional and personal commitments effectively, ultimately reducing career interruptions and bridging the gender pay gap.