Despite all positive effort being made, it is no secret that women are still not at par with their male counterparts as far as pay and senior leadership representation is concerned in the corporate world.
World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that the gender wage gap could take 170 years to close. That’s a long, long time.
However to shorten the WEF duration, organization will need to do the following in order to close the gender gap in their workplaces.
1. Be transparent and loud about wanting to make change
Any organization interested in sealing the gender equality gap should not only have good intentions. The intentions must be made known and all stakeholders invited to participate.
Make it clear to your relevant publics about what need to be done and why.
If the organization is serious about promoting female equality in the workplace, it should then address all pertinent questions and then follow up with real, shared action plans.
2. Closing pay gap between genders
In order to promote female equality in the workplace, it must first begin with equal pay.
Pay disparity and the gender gap are two of the biggest recurring issues in the workforce.
Paying employees fairly and equally based on experience level, not on gender, is truly the first but never the full step needed to properly promote gender equality.
In most cases gender pay disparity cannot be resolved by a simple matter of adjusting pay figures.
The results are not necessarily that of unequal pay, but rather a reflection of a much wider field of failures in balancing opportunities for women at the workplace.
3. Deliberately mentor the next female leaders
The power of coaching or mentoring can never be underestimated in helping individuals rise in their careers and entrepreneurial journey.
While there are sufficient numbers of willing mentors and coaches to walk with the men, the opposite is true for the women.
Organizations need to have deliberate programs that will guide women into a path of high aspirations as far as the highest offices in the corporate world are concerned.
Failure to have mentors means most women ignore investing in their careers in a way that would help them attain the highest career goals and aspiration.
Introduce coaching and mentoring programs to provide women with opportunities to assess professional growth, develop their leadership skills, and identify a strategy to achieve this.
4. Incorporate men in the dialogue
Women expect to achieve gender equality yet majority of the leaders and line managers at the workplace are men. This means it will take the men to help make the dream a reality.
Unfortunately most men are left out of this critical conversation. They are expected to offer help without full knowledge of the challenges and needs of their female colleagues.
To promote gender equality at the workplace, men must be involved in the dialogue as co-partners and not as adversaries.
Such conversations must be open with no finger pointing.
5. Admit and challenge existing bias
World over there are a myriad of biases against women (both conscious and unconscious) that affect the way they are viewed and treated at the workplace.
To promote gender equality, organizations (men and women) need to acknowledge the prejudices that widen the gender gap, address them and then make a conscious effort to approach workplace matters with a professional unbiased mind.
Women too need to acknowledge and abandon the self-limiting the society has branded them with.
Human societies tend to accept new members who are similar to themselves. So a predominantly male field will often choose a male candidate.
This is an influential factor in why women are significantly underrepresented in traditionally male-dominated spheres.
Changing the bias in recruiting is integral and admitting our own biases is an important step to a more open, diverse and fair workplace.
6. Create In-house advocates
Having in-house champions who lead the gender equality campaign is one big step in the right direction.
The champions help in overseeing the short-term, and sustain long-term, actions towards equality.
Remember the champions don’t need to be exclusively women.
7. Re-look into the organization culture
Despite all spirited efforts to improve gender equality at the workplace, the current organizational culture could turn out to be the one biggest obstacle.
The culture could be one that is promoting behaviors that water down all the best efforts.
It is important for the top leadership to take a look into the culture and see whether it aligns to their best efforts or not.
8. Create more flexibility for women
The journey of a career woman has many twists and turns as compared to their male colleagues. Whenever a lady gets into family obligations, the life equation changes completely and priorities get re-organized.
The one thing that is bound to suffer most in women’s lives at this stage is their career growth and aspirations.
Organizations committed to gender equality need to create more flexible options for women including telecommuting, job shares and consulting assignments to motivate women and keep financial and professional continuity intact.
9. Handle sexual harassment cases objectively and respectfully
One thing that powerfully speaks of the organization culture and how women are viewed is the manner in which sexual offenses against women are handled.
Many years of hard work towards a more gender equal work environment could be destroyed by poor handling of one sexual offense case.
The case of Uber and how HR mishandled the sexual complains reported to them, spoke volumes of the company’s perverted view toward ladies. The CEO could not run away from the blame.
Both men and women and the organization at large benefit when gender equality is practiced in the workplace.
Promoting that equality is not difficult, but it does take the commitment of management and everyone’s involvement to take the necessary actions, establish guidelines and enforce them successfully.