• Caterina Sullivan

Does Your Business Promote Gender Equality?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018



Image credit: Dell Inc.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) notes that gender equality in Western societies still isn’t quite what it should be. According to WEF’s Gender Gap Report, Australia is ranked 63rd out of 145 countries for our progress on wage equality for similar work. With a score of 0.66 (1.00 denoting total equality), we still have a long way to go in ensuring we bridge the gender pay gap.

The World Economic Forum says every business can contribute

In typical Western societies, we’re inclined to think that everything that’s needed for gender equality is already in place, but is it really? The World Economic Forum proposes that businesses take decisive action to inculcate gender equality into their culture. As an important element in the Global Goals, gender equality deserves our attention. So how can businesses help?

1. Salaries based on posts not persons

When a person is hired for a post, he or she is selected on the grounds of competency. There’s no reason why one candidate should earn more than another for taking on the same set of responsibilities. Because women are accustomed to earning lower salaries, they will invariably underbid men when asked what they would like to earn. Remuneration should be based on skill, experience, competence and level of responsibility. If that means paying women more than they would ask for and expect, so be it. Companies should take a non-gendered approach to remuneration, and pay for the post rather than the person.

2. Make gender equality and diversity appreciation part of workplace training

Ask any woman whether she promotes gender equality, and she will doubtlessly say “yes”, but even women can be guilty of gender discrimination against their own sex. Have you encountered female personnel officers who won’t hire newly married women because they might take maternity leave? Gender discrimination in the workplace is more common than many of us will ever realise without the right training. From top management to entry-level personnel, promoting a culture of gender equality requires training.

3. Evaluate salaries and promotions in terms of outcomes

Discrimination against women should not be replaced by discrimination against men, yet women still seem to fare worse than their male counterparts when it comes to salaries and promotions, even when they are highly qualified and competent. In order to make your business “gender-blind” when deciding on salaries and promotions, set clear criteria that are free from any gender bias.

4. Flexibility matters

When family responsibilities arise, women, who have traditionally been the caregivers, often bear the brunt. And when men ask for time off to attend to their children, it can, in some workplaces, be considered strange and unusual. By offering flexibility to both men and women, allowing for time off or work from home when family responsibilities arise, companies can overcome this hurdle.

5. Measure your gender equality success: is it 50/50?

In a perfect world, most work teams would consist of 50% men and 50% women, right up to executive level. How does your company fare? Actively seek solutions to constraints that prevent your workforce from reflecting the composition of the general population.

6. Use mentoring and coaching as part of your management succession plan

Helping your employees to advance their careers and promoting them when possible instead of hiring outside help that doesn’t know or understand your business will always be the most efficient solution. If women are underrepresented in the upper echelons of your business, the mentoring and coaching of promising employees can help you to reach your gender equality goals.

Think your workplace is leading in the achievement of Goal 5: Gender Equality? Let us know! Contact us with a picture of your diverse team supporting the Global Goals to be featured on our website and social media.

For more ways to achieve the Global Goals in your workplace, check out another of my articles here!

This article was originally published on the Global Goals Australia Campaign website.

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