Championing gender equality in the workplace 

Advice on meaningful ways to implement gender parity in the workplace as we approach 8 March, 2022, International Women’s Day (IWD). 

Celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality. These are all key themes for this year’s International Women’s Day (8th March) and the workplace has an important role to play in helping to create a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. 

Here are some useful tips to help you implement robust gender equality strategies in your company.

#BreakTheBias. IWD’s hashtag for this year’s event marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. It’s 47 years since the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 came into law, protecting men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status, yet many women in the workplace continue to report experiencing less pay for equal work. Almost 60% of women regularly experience microaggressions at work too. Breaking the bias aims to address the sometimes chasmic differences in attitudes towards the sexes at work. 

Equal pay: Pay parity has for many decades been debated between the genders. It’s no secret that the pandemic has stalled advances. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the impact of COVID19 has increased the time it takes to close the global gender gap by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. Businesses that strive for gender equality in the workplace can begin with addressing fairness of salary. Transparency is key. Improvements can begin by reviewing employee compensation regularly, disclosing salary levels, checking starting salaries are equal between men and women and removing any bias from performance related pay, bonuses or overtime. 

Eliminate recruitment biases: Anonymising applications is a clear starting point. Evaluate whether it is necessary to detail name and sex from initial assessment criteria. A candidate number can be an appropriate way to ensure that the best person for the job is chosen regardless of gender. Assessing recruitment channels is also crucial. Ask whether the job boards you place your adverts with are gender balanced and what the demographics of users are. Reach out to both sexes by employing a variety of recruitment channels. It’s important that adverts are gender neutral and refer only to the skills that are essential for the position. Having a diverse recruitment team will ensure that evaluation is fair. Getting feedback from applicants can also help with ongoing reviews.

Celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace: The Women in the Workplace 2021 report found that 90% of companies track women’s overall representation in the workplace but only 65% track gender differences in promotion rates. Data is a key starting point for understanding where disparities may lie and where opportunities are being missed. It is therefore even more important to celebrate women’s successes at work when they arise, be that promotion, overcoming barriers, improving skills or winning clients. Female role models and mentors are a great way of building robust female development pipelines.

Remove barriers: Pandemic lockdown orders disproportionately affected women, particularly single mothers and monitories. The tendency for mothers to have primary childcare responsibilities continues but should not prevent them from moving forward with their careers, yet too often it still does. Employers that wish to remove these obstacles must assess flexible working policies are equitable for caregivers and ensure that parental and caring packages are workable and generous. Term-time only working, hybrid working models, flexible start times and allowances to take care of unwell children and/or attend important school occasions will help to promote more candidates with caring responsibilities coming forward for senior roles while also retaining working parents.

Address differences: Education in the workplace is key. Establishing a culture which is accepting of differences and inclusive is a way to ensure that toxic attitudes disappear. Recently the challenges that menopausal and non-binary women go through in their late 40s and 50s has been highlighted by high-profile career women. Workplaces that accept the challenges faced either when starting a family or coming to the end of childbearing years will reap the benefits of a more loyal and motivated workforce. Some 80% of menopausal people will experience symptoms during their later career. It’s an important point which illustrates the importance of caring for women during the start, middle and end of their careers and accepting the challenges that they and their male colleagues may be going through. 

Read about how to rethink your employer brand in this free downloadable ebook: Employer Branding Reboot: A guide for employers throughout the pandemic and beyond Need advice or help building your employer brand? Get in touch with Wonderful Workplaces on [email protected] 

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Annie Hayes is a specialist HR, skills, careers and L&D writer with 19 years experience in the sector. 

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