How to Foster Gender Equality in Your Workplace
If you’re not sure whether your workplace has a gender equality issue, then it probably has one. Men may not intentionally behave in ways that make their female coworkers feel discriminated against, but at the same time, they may not recognize issues of sexism and gender inequality because these issues don’t affect them directly. Your female employees may not feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns about gender inequality, perhaps because they’re used to not feeling heard at work, or perhaps even because they have a hard time putting their feelings into words.
How can you promote equality between your male and female employees? You can start by making sure everyone knows that gender equality in the workplace is a priority for your company. Be proactive about hiring women and offering them opportunities for raises and promotions. Give your employees the flexibility they need to meet their family commitments. You could even encourage your employees to champion gender equality causes outside the workplace.
Make Gender Equality the Company Policy
Your employees will be more likely to keep gender equality issues in mind at work if they’re constantly reminded that it’s company policy to treat female and male employees the same. Put together a set of core values that reflect your company’s commitment to gender equality and display them in a place where everyone can see it, such as in the break room.
Encourage employees to come forward when they see or personally experience issues with sexual harassment, gender-based violence, or gender-based bullying in the workplace. Establish a reporting system that protects victims from reprisal. Let your employees know that they can come to you with less serious gender equality concerns, too.
Some of your employees may not fully understand gender equality issues, but you can help change that. Bring in guest speakers to talk about issues surrounding gender equality in the workplace and at home. Develop regular team-building exercises that help promote gender equality in your workplace by encouraging the men and women on your team to work together. You could even make it a point to hire equal numbers of men and women or to assign equal numbers of men and women to work on team projects together.
Give Female and Male Employees Equal Opportunities
You may want to be proactive about hiring more women for your team. The gender wage gap may be wide open in economies around the world, but you can close it in your company by making sure your female employees get paid just as much as the men doing their same jobs. When asked outright how much money they think they should earn, many female job applicants ask for less than their male counterparts.
When you hire a new female employee, outline a fair salary range and ask the new hire to position herself within it. This will help balance the discrepancy without making the new hire feel put on the spot.
Although more than 57 percent of women are now in the work force, women still bear most of the responsibility for child care, elder care, and homemaking. That means that many women struggle to uphold both their professional and their personal responsibilities. You can make it easier on them by offering flexible working arrangements to all of your employees.
Instead of forcing employees to ask for telecommuting or flex working privileges that they may not even be sure are available, make sure everyone knows what their flex working options are. Make it easy for employees to choose flex hours or telecommuting one or more days a week. Some employees may be able to work entirely from home, saving you money on office space and increasing those workers’ productivity.
Make sure the men in your office have all the same flex working options as the women. It’s only fair, and with modern families being what they are, your male employees could just as easily be single parents or have elderly relatives depending on them for care.
Encourage Gender Activism
Most of your employees will probably wholeheartedly support gender equality initiatives, especially your younger employees. Promote a deeper understanding of gender inequality issues by encouraging your staff to get involved in gender activism. Campaigns like the UN’s 16 Days of Activism focus on issues surrounding gender inequality around the world, especially gender-based violence. HeforShe is a solidarity movement that encourages men to take a stand against gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Alternatively, you could encourage your staff to raise funds to help women in developing countries access health care, finish their educations, or raise seed money for entrepreneurial endeavors.
While women have made great strides toward social, legal, and political equality with men, many women still feel discriminated against in the workplace. You can make sure your female employees don’t feel that way by making gender equality a priority in your workplace. Both your male and female employees will thank you for it.