Gender equality activism has been one of the century’s striking fights pushing for workplace gender diversity. Although the advocacy has yielded some positive results, there is still an opening to the assurance that all employees deserve equal and fair treatment (Gomez and Bernet, 2019). Several studies have tried to explore those factors that slow down this evolution because it is high time to reverse this trend (Yarram and Adapa, 2021). Media scrutiny must be applauded for keeping this issue on the highlight because now many companies highly prioritize gender diversity agenda. However, what needs to remain clear is that achieving gender parity needs long-term strategies, and this is where many firms are failing because they underestimate the process.
It is evident that workplace gender diversity not only presents more chances to female workers but has contributed to the firm’s bottom line. According to Zhang 2020, Several reports have confirmed that stock valuation and revenue streams for entities that are more gender diverse outpaces those of male-dominated companies (Zhang, 2020). Increased productivity, innovation and creativity are some of the benefits that come with increased gender diversity. Regardless of the convincing case regarding gender diversity, women’s proportion in top management remains slim (Madera et al., 2019). Undoubtedly, more work is needed to empower women to achieve greater workplace equality. Long-term solutions are needed by leveraging a multi-branched approach to ensure more workplace diversity is achieved. To set a gender-diverse foundation, this paper aims to dive into those strategies that can be implemented to achieve and win over this case.
Understanding Gender Diversity Importance
Gender diversity guarantees that all staff gets the same treatment and fair compensation irrespective of gender. Equal work should equate to equal pay, and this issue has been the main driver of the gender gap in the workplace. Gender diversity offers equal chances to ensure everyone accesses essential resources to grow professionally (Mousa et al., 2020). Besides, gender diversity denotes the availability of various gender expressions and identities within the workplace to allow employees to express themselves without fearing harassment or discrimination based on gender (Kaur and Arora, 2020). Diversity strives to create a supportive and benign workplace setting where employees can feel authentic and be their best version, dramatically influencing productivity.
Despite the long history of gender equality advocacy in the workplace, the underrepresentation of women persists to this day. Men have higher entry chances than women despite having the same qualifications. Also, women are less promoted to top management positions or given the training to learn and develop. Again, the wage gap has always placed women on the lower end, given that they earn less than men for the same task (England et al., 2020). This highlights the need to nurture a culture capable of fostering gender diversity. Workplace gender diversity seems to be the only potential approach to re-address societal imbalances and create an equitable work setting (Gomez and Bernet, 2019). All employees should be on the same footing, irrespective of gender.
Excellence is not gender discriminative. Skills, competencies, and capacity are what create all the differences. This explains why most reputable entities are open to equitable, diverse work settings that foster gender equality. Organizations should understand that gender diversity can be leveraged to nurture evolution and competitive edge but not to confine it (Fine et al., 2020). Diversity holds the mean, methods, concepts and ideas of perception crucial to business success. In today’s world, all organizations should strive to realize gender diversity as it comes with a reputation, substantial benefits and other demanding values that shape an entity’s bottom line.
Promoting gender inclusion and diversity helps organization accessibility to an extensive talent pool which assists in attracting the best talents and varied outlooks to the business. With a broad talent pool, an organization can cultivate a more innovative, collaborative and creative workforce (Fernando et al., 2020). Besides, an inclusive and diverse workplace culture helps boost employee performance, retention and assurance. Companies that highly regard gender diversity enjoy a positive brand reputation, which assists in the business’s growth, increased profitability and tapping into new openings and opportunities. Besides, a diversified workforce cherishes prosperous outlooks, which influences a more holistic manner of doing things and ultimately a remarkable success (del Carmen Triana et al., 2019). The benefits of gender inclusion and diversity transcend many aspects because a company that eliminates barriers to gender diversity and inclusion should be sure of flexibility, a happy and reliable workforce, improved customer targeting, and so on (Martinez-Jimenez et al., 2020). Gender diversity is the current norm, and all businesses should strive to embrace this trend (Chaudhry et al., 2021). However, this might not be automatic since many barriers hinder gender inclusion and diversity; however, with long-term plans, dedication and being open to change, achieving gender parity is a walk in the park.
Barriers to Gender Inclusion and Diversity
Unequal wages have not only aggravated workplace gender inequality; women of color, back women, and LGBTQ continue to experience barricades to moving up the career ladder or management positions. Besides, they likely experience microaggressions, which include insensitive questions or violent statements linked to gender, race, sexual identity and ethnicity (Tyner, 2019). Closing gender gaps will help disregard workplace discrimination which hinders career advancement. Notably, there are surefire solutions that can help achieve gender inclusion and diversity and include flexible work alternatives, emphasis on employee psychological well-being, training chances for women and transparent salaries. Besides, employees ought to be in this fight, and they can push for changes if they disapprove of discrimination instances, collaborate and give fierce candid feedback to their management.
The fight for workplace gender parity dates back to the nineteenth century when the US Congress approved a law guaranteeing that women in civil service were paid equally as men. In 1963, almost a century far ahead, Equal Pay Act got approved, making it a statute that all workplaces should pay women equal wages as men (Hyland et al., 2020). Besides, the 1964 Civil Rights Act afforded women equal rights in all types of workplaces and gave women the power to sue cases of sexual harassment in their workplace (Bishu and Headley, 2020). Despite these game-changing government regulations against gender discrimination and disparity, such instances are still reported in the workplace and continue to creep in insidiously.
Gender inequality has taken different forms within workplaces, such as racism, wage gap, promotion disparities, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Besides, these manifestations have been intensified by gender stereotypes, gender bias, toxic workplace culture, weak leadership support, and women’s internal barriers.
Gender Stereotypes and Bias
In the workplace, gender bias and stereotypes are harmful because they are based on cultural expectations and conventions of how particular gender should conduct themselves. Notably, these stereotypes seem dangerous since they can trigger isolation and discrimination when women fail to conform to expected gendered roles (Evans and Maley, 2021). According to Breda et al., these unconscious biases make women be perceived as less suited, worthwhile or talented when they advise, manage, sponsor or supervise men (Breda et al., 2020). Gender bias and stereotypes slow, thwart and block women’s career progression.
The notion that women are not as good as men or cannot lead or compete as men negatively affect women’s ambitions, potential and career goals. Besides, these biases include benevolent, motherhood, agentic, self-limiting and negative biases. Notably, women in male-dominated fields like engineering are associated with low performance and capability expectations (Breda et al., 2020). Men think women do not have similar characteristics to perform and should stick to their inferior side, caregiver and home keepers.
Toxic Workplace Culture
Women are more susceptible to experiencing a toxic workplace setting. According to recent research, the Covid pandemic aggravated this gap, making it considerably wide (Sull, 2020). As per Glassdoor reviews, 35 percent of women stand a higher chance of experiencing a toxic male culture which is unethical, abusive and disrespectful, and the worse part is that the numbers facing this challenge have increased according to a 2016 to 2021 report (Sull, 2020). Also, according to the research, 41 percent of women were likely subjected to toxic workplace culture during Covid’s onset (Sull, 2020). Men perpetrating these toxic cultures make sexist jokes or comments to their women counterparts, harass them sexually, and disrespectfully conduct themselves. In such environments, women feel uncomfortable, disrespected and unsafe, making them timid to share their ideas and opinions or stand against discrimination (Sull, 2020). Besides, this leads to increased turnover since most women will quit and those who remain disdain teamwork.
Women Internal Barriers
Most women tend to feel inferior compared to men, even when it comes to having similar career ambitions. Women indeed apply for jobs they feel they have entirely qualified for, while men apply for even those jobs they do not have full requirements. Under comparable performances, men over-appraise themselves while women do the opposite. Besides, when women fail, they will blame themselves and praise external forces when they succeed. Herbst argues that this confidence break results in women negotiating low standards than men (Herbst, 2020). Notably, this fear of standing up to defend the right things leads to the augmentation of toxic cultures, discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Weak Leadership Support
The difficulties women face to advance in their careers, and the advantages of having a gender-diversified workplace are underestimated. According to research, more than 90 percent of women experience more challenges in reaching top executive levels. A classical notion has been used to justify this claim that women are scarce in recruiting. Management is unaware that they foster a male privilege and ignore women’s career challenges, thus being less considerate about gender diversity approaches (Poletti-Hughes and Briano-Turrent, 2019). Sometimes even when management acknowledges the benefits of gender diversity, often they fail to identify strategies that can help eliminate barriers that affect women.
Strategies to Implement Gender Inclusion and Diversity
Even though the Covid pandemic pushed back the grit to realize gender parity within workplaces, collectively, meaningful influence can take shape to ensure gender inclusion and diversity. Below are some of the tested and proven strategies organizations can leverage to improve gender inclusion and diversity. To successfully implement these diversity and inclusion initiatives, entities should consider a structured style that necessitates proving a company’s dedication to implementing means of defending all workers regardless of gender.
Gender Diversity Training (Unconscious Bias)
Understanding an issue lays the ground for solving it. Companies need to focus on educating themselves and their employees on matters associated with the gender gap in the workplace (Pritlove et al., 2019). Organizations should create openings to raise discrimination awareness and highlight women’s challenges (Coe et al., 2019). For instance, Women’s Day would be a good day to appreciate women who do not let work challenges such as discrimination, harassment or disrespect pull them down. Besides, this conversation should be on throughout to encourage gender parity.
Since everyone can hold unconscious prejudices and biases regarding other groups or people, companies should provide implicit bias training to ensure employees and managers are aware of their hidden biases (Pritlove et al., 2019). This would help managers or staff avoid discriminative conduct and make informed choices to foster gender equality. With the appropriate training, employees can be able to understand gender discrimination, its dangers and what actions are unacceptable within the workplace.
Gender diversity is not about recruiting more women or paying equally; it is more about an organizational and cultural move toward an inclusive setting where both males and females have equal access to the chances and resources necessary to succeed. Awareness, respect, sensitivity and understanding are the first paces toward workplace diversity and equity.
Crafting Equitable Policies
Organizations should comprehensively review their internal policies to confirm that they are equitable and fair. Tan states that, particularly, those policies hold more weight regarding women (Tan, 2019). For instance, entities should offer protection against the discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace, offer sufficient conditions for nursing mothers and have a benefits package to support new mothers.
Companies should strive to offer remote working models or work flexibility to assist women in balancing their personal responsibilities and work (Tan, 2019). Besides, a childcare voucher would cheer mothers to return to work after maternity leave. Such policies would ensure that women do not fall behind when it comes to their careers. Remarkably, countries like Iceland and Sweden offer separate fathers’ parental leave to cheer men to get some time off and help with household responsibilities as women return to work. A company should be a safe place to work, irrespective of gender. Besides, taking feedback seriously can help organizations detect potential challenges and thus pass policies to address the issue and ensure continuous improvement toward diversity.
Prioritizing Fair Compensation Practices
Conducting an assessment and auditing compensation practices to ensure all employees are paid fairly is an effective way to ensure inclusion and diversity. Regardless of gender, all employees deserve to pay equity if the work is of equal value (Greider et al., 2019). Compensation audits should be conducted regularly to ensure an organization is not innocently aggravating the gender wage gap (Meara et al., 2020). Besides, the equitable pay analysis should focus on succession and promotion planning. Treating all employees equally gives women a chance for advancement, encouraging them to give a short for promotions and transfers.
Companies should ensure a refined compensation strategy outlining each position’s salary band, which relies on employees’ performance, skills, experience and education, not gender (Greider et al., 2019). For example, Buffer in 2013 embraced a complete salary transparency and disclosed all wages, requirements for higher salaries and promotions. Consequently, the company’s job applications surged, with more than 1,500 within 30 days of the announcement expanding their talent pool.
Evaluate the Recruitment Process
Gender inclusion and diversity start during the hiring process. If a company fails to interview and recruit a diversified applicant range, attempting to achieve gender inclusion and diversity within its workforce will yield zero results (Edwards et al., 2019). Shortlisting candidates who qualify for the open positions offer a chance for the recruiter to push for gender diversity and see beyond gender stereotypes linked with the role (Lucas et al., 2021). Human resource managers should be trained to shortlist candidates, mainly when recruiting in male-dominated fields, to ensure more women get hired.
Edward et al. argue that companies should create comprehensive job descriptions free from gender bias (Edwards et al., 2019). Hiring candidates should be focused on their responsibilities. Besides, firms should proactively source a varied candidate pipeline. Many recruitment tools can be outsourced to recruit. However, firms should be cautious with this, given the case of Amazon, which used an AI recruitment tool which was biased against women. Ultimately, having a diverse interviewing panel would make applicants from underrepresented groups feel comfortable.
Offering development chances to empower women
Providing women with a chance to gain new skills can help them become tech-savvy and transition to roles which require high skills (Onyeador et al., 2021). It is estimated that by 2030 more than 40 million women will shift to high-skilled occupations which pay better and will influence their productivity. Organizations should understand that prioritizing women’s growth has substantial benefits, which include higher customer satisfaction, more innovation and increased revenue.
Setting up coaching schemes
Mentors influence to inspire new workers and help boost their confidence, assisting them in maximizing their potential. Sadly, many companies have failed to mentor women employees. Employees can benefit from coaching because they can follow the guidance to develop personally and professionally (House et al., 2021). However, because not many women hold top leadership positions, this proves that women can gain a lot from more support and mentorship. With proper guidance, women can start believing in themselves and embracing a growth mentality that would see them seek new opportunities to push their limits.
For example, BetterUp Labs mentored 440 women in different firms and discovered that the coaching conferences empowered women to achieve excellent paces in inclusive leadership, general employee experience and self-awareness.
Nurturing a workplace culture that embraces diversity
The lack of a standard orientation across an organization department makes it a challenge to overturn gender inequality. Gender inclusion and diversity are a collective call, and each employee plays a part. To ensure this happens, an organization must encourage an ethos that grips gender inclusion and diversity (Arora-Jonsson and Ågren, 2019). If all organization leaders could be behind this mission, it would be easy to positively impact and nurture a culture that values inclusion and diversity. Fostering an inclusive and diverse culture can help form employee resource groups to empower women, mainly because they are the most underrepresented.
True gender equality will not be achieved until the matter becomes intersectional. Workplace inequalities are created by different factors that overlap and compound, resulting in discrimination. Some women in the workplace face discrimination due to gender, while others encounter inequalities due to their sexual orientation, class, race, caste and ability besides gender. Even with legislation, women are still not getting fair and equitable treatment in their workplace. Until organizations concede that complex layers induce gender inequality and strive for systemic transformations, gender equality that touches on inclusion and diversity will only be far-fetched. Organizations need to support women, offer them equal chances to develop, compensate them fairly, train them, implement empowering policies, and help change organizational culture and behavior to eliminate bias, prejudice, discrimination, harassment and toxic male culture.
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