In spite of consistent efforts to bridge the gender gap, in 2016, the average pay of women still hovered roughly 20% below that of men. In addition, as the number of women in a given sector begins to climb, the pay also begins to drop. The truth is that the work women do is simply seen as less valuable than that of men.
Conversely, however, a McKinsey study showed that companies that promote gender diversity are 15% more likely to earn above average revenue. Gender diversity in a company does not simply happen, it must be cultivated. Again and again, however, studies show that gender diversity in leadership pays big dividends, so it seems worthwhile to put the energy into it. Here are 7 tips to help build a culture of gender equality in your company.
1. Set Measurable Goals
Without specific goals to strive towards and the metrics by which to measure legitimate progress, very little is likely to happen. Some examples of measurable goals that can be tracked with metrics are:
- Gender representation of external candidates for hire
- Salary differences in comparable positions by gender
- Assignment of high-visibility projects by gender
- Number of management and executive position held by gender
2. Stop Pay Disparity
Pay disparity continues to be the most prevalent issue creating a gender divide, but bridging it can be difficult based simply on the differing roles of men and women. Quite simply, men will rarely have to figure out how to balance having a career and starting a family in the same way women will. Achieving pay equality will almost always be exacerbated by the reality of the “mommy track.” In order for businesses to truly achieve gender and pay equality, they are going to have to come up with new and creative ways to help women achieve better work-life balance.
3. Ensure Unbiased Hiring Decisions
Biases are possibly one of the most difficult issues to overcome when it comes to gender equality, largely because people rarely believe they have them. Removing names and personal information from resumes, taking care to remove gender biases from job descriptions and taking a bias test are all ways you can help equalize the hiring process.
4. Teach Employees about Gender Inequality and Bias
All too often, women who experience discrimination only speak about it with other women, while men don’t speak about it at all. When women do speak up, they are often dismissed or ignored. While many men may admit there seems to be a problem, it is rare for any man to admit he may actually be a contributing factor. Finger pointing and singling out individual actions and behaviors will most likely not solve the problem. Facilitating open, honest and frank discussions, as well as providing ongoing education and training may be the only solution to help alleviate the problem.
5. Enable Your Employees to “Do It All”
Much has been made of the importance of women achieving work-life balance, but men don’t seem to be encouraged to do the same. Achieving true gender equality in the workplace will most likely hinge on creating more opportunities for men to take on more responsibilities in their personal lives, freeing more women up to take on more business responsibilities. Businesses can facilitate this by offering paternity leave, flexible schedules and other options that can help both women and men achieve better work-life balance.
6. Encourage Women to Go for Leadership Roles
A study conducted by Hewlett-Packard maintained that women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they feel 100% qualified for it while men will apply for a position they feel only 60% qualified for. Further studies put a slightly different spin on these findings, but the reality is there is most likely a genuine confidence gap that must be addressed. In short, if you want more women in leadership roles, you will most likely have to actively cultivate and encourage them.
7. Equalize Performance Reviews
Again and again, high-performing women tend to be judged far more harshly than men, particularly by male superiors. In addition, many of the standards by which women are being judged in the first place are based on male definitions of success. In short, if women are driven and motivated – traits that are often highly valued in men – they tend to be viewed as too harsh or demanding. Conversely, when women adopt a more communal style of leadership, they are often viewed as being too weak, ineffective or “nice.”
Promoting salary equality and gender diversity in your company will require a multi-pronged approach on many fronts. When salaries and promotions are based on performance reviews, it is important to ensure those performance reviews aren’t being affected by personal biases. Since people are rarely aware of their own personal biases, they have to be addressed as if they exist, whether individuals admit to them or not. Doing so may be the only way to create real and effective change.