Although American workplaces have made progress in recent decades to promote equity and fight gender discrimination in the workplace, we still have a long way to figure out how to support women in the workplace. According to the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, it will take another century to achieve gender equality in the workplace, based on the current rate of progress.
While women make up 39 percent of the global workforce, they accounted for 54 percent of job losses as of May 2020 – and they’re overrepresented in sectors that were hit hardest by the pandemic. Furthermore, gender inequalities disproportionately affect women of color, LGBTQ+ women and those with other non-traditional identity markers.
Here, we look at what companies of all types and sizes can do to promote gender equality in the workplace and make the playing field equitable for all who identify as women.
Mind the pay gap
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women made 82 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2020. In almost every occupation, men earn roughly 20 to 30 percent more than women doing the same work.
Though companies are becoming increasingly aware of the disparity between genders where pay is concerned, there’s a long way to go.
Hire an equity officer or another position whose job it is to analyze the wages for employees and make sure that nobody is making less than another with the same experience level in a similar role – especially when the one making less is a woman or person of color.
From 2015 to 2020, the number of women in senior vice president positions increased from 23 to 28 percent. Women in top officer positions increased from 17 to 21 percent. This is still a dramatic underrepresentation in executive roles, considering around half of the workforce is female.
In 2020, 62 percent of manager roles were held by men, while women had only 38 percent. In the U.S., only 85 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men that receive the same promotion. This disparity grows even more significant for women of color – only 71 Latina women and 58 Black women are promoted for every 100 men.
When a management position opens up, it’s up to the organization to evaluate each candidate for what they’ve accomplished and what they’re capable of. Those responsible for promotions should ensure their biases aren’t coloring their promotion decisions.
Let mothers mother and fathers father
Work-life balance is difficult for everybody – but particularly so for working mothers. When a child is sick, it’s typically the mother who takes time off work.
It’s important for companies to support working mothers. Here are some suggestions to support women balance work and home:
- Let’s not disparage
Create a company culture where women workers aren’t made to feel they’re an inconvenience when they have to take care of issues at home during the workday. Support working mothers – and fathers – who need to balance child care and work.
- Offer flex time
Offering flexible hours is a fantastic way to ensure working mothers can easily balance work with the family’s needs. More companies are offering this choice, which could be a viable option for your organization.
- Subsidize childcare
Childcare is costly. Often, more than half of what one parent earns goes toward daycare and after-school programs. If your organization can offset these costs, it would relieve a tremendous burden for all parents who work for you.
- Open up an on-site daycare
It’s a viable option for some companies to integrate childcare into their work facility. If it’s feasible for your company, consider an at-work childcare center as an option.
Open up your ears and your mind
One of the greatest concerns women have about their workplace is being heard. Too often, male co-workers and managers dismiss a woman’s idea but then praise a male colleague’s contribution of the same caliber.
Disregarding a woman’s contribution to the conversation doesn’t just leave her out of the loop – it takes away her voice. Often, male executives cite a woman’s lack of willingness to speak up as a reason for her not moving forward. It’s up to leadership to make sure the women in the company aren’t disregarded, ignored or shut down when they offer input.
Make it a part of your company culture to amplify women’s voices – ask for opinions, and value their perspectives. Businesses miss out on many opportunities for growth and profit when women are left out of the conversation.
We’re all professionals here
Everyone in your employ is a competent, intelligent adult. They are all professionals – the men, the women and all other gender identities. Everybody contributes, and every contribution is valuable. When we treat all who contribute with respect and esteem, it creates a culture of equity and inclusion.
Engage your employees in the Allyship in the Workplace workshop to educate them on the impact of unequal treatment in the workplace and show them how to exercise empathy toward all fellow work associates.
Supporting women in the workplace goes beyond giving them a month to show appreciation. It includes ensuring harassment and demeaning of a woman for her gender or any other characteristic is unacceptable and swiftly dealt with.
Company leadership is responsible for the way their employees are treated. Develop a workplace culture of inclusion, and institute a zero-tolerance policy for sexism and harassment.
Educate and elucidate
Remain aware of issues that women face at work, and address these issues in a meaningful way. It’s up to leaders to model and educate all employees and steer the organization toward respect and inclusiveness for all.
Numerous workshops and classes are available to provide company leaders with the tools they need to identify the issues surrounding women in the workplace.
Give your team the benefit of insights into inclusivity and workplace respect with a workshop like the Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace seminar offered on Thriver. Programs like this help to cultivate an environment of fair treatment at work.
It’s up to employers to progress toward inclusivity and fair treatment for all employees, regardless of gender. Let’s honor the women in our workplace and appreciate the perspective and inspiration they bring to every organization.