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5 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

Women who participate in the workforce are still in a vulnerable position. Learn our 5 best tips to improve gender equality in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion are indispensable in organizations. A diverse and inclusive workplace allows different ideas and creativity which will improve performance, processes, and productivity. Despite this, many companies still have not reaped the benefits due to a lack of awareness or because the industry itself is dominated by a single-gender. In 2020 for example, the bottom 20% of the Global Gender Gap Index is dominated by developing countries, meaning that the participation of women in the workforce is still very low compared to men.

Even before the pandemic happened, women are more vulnerable to lose their jobs compared to men, and the health crisis certainly increases the vulnerability of women’s jobs even more. Women account for 54% of global job losses despite comprising only 39% of global employment. This dire situation forces us to rethink the way we view gender equality in the workplace – what it truly means, what the importance is, and how we can promote it widely in our organizations.

On the 26th-27th of February, SHL supported Careers For Her in the first-ever virtual conference and career fair in Egypt. I am glad to say that this is the hallmark of change in the region, and diversity and inclusion efforts like this should be continuously supported to secure an inclusive future for all of us.

Let’s take an in-depth look at how we can achieve this.

What Does Gender Equality Mean?

First, we need to define and understand what gender equality looks like. In a holistic view, gender equality in the workplace happens when everyone has equal rights, opportunities, responsibilities, and access in the organization. Specifically, this also means that:

  • Everyone feels safe to pursue the same job without fearing discrimination
  • People across teams work together and collaborate equally
  • Everyone is treated with fairness and respect
  • Everyone has access to education and training within the organization

First, we need to define and understand what gender equality looks like.

The Importance of Gender Equality at Work

Ensuring that gender equality is taking place in the organization will not only benefit the individuals but also the organization. Here are some palpable benefits of gender equality and why it is important to achieve it:

  1. Increase the talent pool for leadership. SHL found that out of 27 challenges, women outperform men in 21 of those. Therefore, promoting leadership diversity will boost company performance.
  2. Create a safer and healthier work environment. Organizations with gender equality in place will have more connected people. Collaboration is more fluid as people are not afraid to be discriminated against when they share their ideas.
  3. Improve overall businesses. Without any doubt, companies that provide equal opportunities to their people allow for more diverse insights and creativity. This can help improve processes and productivity, which will contribute to a better business.

How to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

#1—Remove biases

Traditionally, men and women tend to cluster in different groups of jobs. For example, IT jobs are predominantly men, while nursing jobs are mainly women. This creates gender expectations – because IT jobs are often filled with men, women taking the same jobs are not expected. On top of this, there is also gender bias and favoritism, so much that men are 30% more likely to be considered than women in the recruitment process. There are ways to limit these biases, such as:

  • Provide unconscious bias training – education and awareness will help your people understand the biases and how to avoid them.
  • Use gender-neutral language – for example, in a job description, company documentation, etc.
  • Stop stereotyping – men, women, and other genders should be welcome in any industry and job level.

#2—Fair play, fair pay

In the Gender Pay Gap report by Payscale, it is found that women earn 19% less than men in 2020 for the same job. While there are many reasons why the gender pay gap happens, discrimination often plays a role in it. As an organization, we have the power and control to eliminate this. Provide the same opportunity and compensation for the same job to everyone. Only this way, we can start cultivating a fair organizational culture.

There is also gender bias and favoritism, so much that men are 30% more likely to be considered than women in the recruitment process.

#3—Focus on the results, not on the person

For women to be taken seriously, they need to deliver much more than men. This is a reality that happens a lot without us knowing consciously, and this is not how this is supposed to be. We need to put more focus on the target achieved, not the identity of who achieves it. This does not mean we neglect to credit whoever delivers the result. But what this means is that we need to credit the achievers fairly regardless of their gender, as what matters, in the end, is that the delivered results benefit the whole organization.

#4—Build an enabling environment

To accomplish gender equality in the workplace, we need to create a supportive ecosystem for our people. Some ways to realize this are:

  • Allow flexible working hours. Nowadays, it is not only women who take care of the children. Working fathers also need to spend time with their family too, and flexible hours help all working parents to balance their work and family
  • Promote equal opportunity for continuous learning. To move forward to a better future, everyone in the company must establish a growth mindset. Not only this is important for the company, but also for the individual’s personal development.
  • Organize DEI initiatives. Show your support and participation in the cause through webinars, conferences, events, etc.
  • Empower your people with the right tools and resources, so that they can perform at the best of their skills and capability.

#5—Create an inclusive hiring process

Let’s not forget that when we are recruiting talents, they are also evaluating us. Candidates prefer to work in a more diverse workplace. Therefore, it is important for hiring managers and recruiters to ensure they see the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. This can be done by:

  • Posting gender-neutral job descriptions, for example by using words like “individual” instead of “man” or “woman”
  • Simplifying the job requirements. There is a notion that women will apply for a job when they meet 100% of the requirements, while men only 60%. This can be caused by a lack of self-confidence. While by no means we need to lower the requirements just to have women recruited, simplifying the job criteria makes the vacancy less intimidating and more welcoming to anyone eligible.
  • Ensuring a diverse interview panel. This is done so that nobody feels left behind or outnumbered by the majority group, creating an uncomfortable situation.

Diversity and inclusion efforts are more relevant than ever. Women are often marginalized when it comes to leadership and businesses. From now on and forward, we all have to join hands to change this to be able to shape a better prospect. And I believe that together, we can achieve this.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a more equal and inclusive talent acquisition and management program.

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Author

Mohamed Farid

Mohamed is a seasoned Business Leader with more than 24 years in the Technology and Services industries, out of which 14 years in Human Capital Management. Mohamed initiated SHL operations in the Middle East from onset in 2008 and since then has been responsible for the performance, strategy, and expansion of the organization in MENA Region. With a long history of building strong customer relationships, coupled with the market know-how to specify, strategize, and define opportunities to support SHL clients, he is an active public speaker and an advisor to various Middle East government initiatives in Human Capital and AI. Mohamed has a master’s degree from Middlesex University in Business Information Technology and is an Associate Alumni of MIT Sloan School of Management.

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