We’ve discussed how gender biases begin to develop in early childhood and gender inequality in the workplace. In this article, we’ll look at some ways businesses and individuals can strive for a more representative and equitably-paid workforce.
Recognize the Problem
Anybody who has been through an addiction recovery process will tell you that the first step in healing is to admit you have a problem. The same holds true in terms of establishing gender equity in the workplace. In order to remedy it, it has to be recognized. A complacent, head-in-the-sand approach never leads to change. Michelle King, Director of Inclusion at Netflix, had this startling revelation after interviewing team members, “Almost every one of my interviewees said that they believed men and women have identical opportunities, workplace experiences, and career paths. Consequently, they believed that women do not succeed because of their individual choices or capabilities and not because of unwelcoming and even hostile work environments” (Headstart).
If you discount, ignore, or deny gender bias in the workplace, you are contributing to it.
Strive for Cooperation Rather Than Competition
The term “healthy competition” can be a misnomer in the workplace. While competition has its place on the sports field and between brands, it should not dominate within an organization. According the Harvard Business Review, heavy-handed, aggressive leadership propagates “the belief that progress can be made only at the expense of others. Such environments disincentivize [sic] workers from helping or supporting their colleagues” (HBR.org).
Educate Your Workforce
Hold activity-based training sessions to teach your team about gender discrimination, its effects, and how to prevent it. Make sure each employee is apprised of his or her rights under the law and knows the avenues they can take to rectify wrongs or promote positive change (Forbes). This training should not be limited to lower-level employees. C-Suite and all managers need to be educated on this issue probably more than anyone because they have the influence to either rectify or support the biases.
When it comes to promotions and salary increases, using completely objective criteria and transparency with employees at all levels about the benchmarks is important. This increases the ability to be unbiased in decision-making and helps all employees recognize precise steps they need to take to earn those opportunities (Headstart).
Remove the Gender Pay Gap
Quit paying women less than men for the same work. Implement and publish pay brackets to make all applicants for new positions and promotions aware of the level of compensation their experience and expertise will earn. The transparency around objective criteria is the foundation for equalizing pay equity. Keep a watchful eye on HR and management, and hold them accountable for honoring those brackets (World Economic Forum). If there is a discrepancy in pay between people, ensure that the experience and years of service are fully documented so it cannot be viewed as gender pay inequity. Gender equality and balance in the workplace is essential for every employee. If gender discrimination is allowed to flourish, it leads to a toxic, negative work culture that will eventually hurt a company’s reputation and their bottom line. This can also lead to expensive legal action that can be avoided.