Thanks to the activism and achievements of women around the world, gender equity issues are gaining huge momentum. So where do we go from here?
The 2021 YPO Global Chief Executive Gender Equality Survey, conducted in partnership with the UN HeForShe initiative, showed top tier organizations and upper level management are generally quite aware of the challenges facing female employees (pay disparity, hiring bias and “the second shift,” to name a few). The good news is that’s a first step toward change!
Here are 7 ways organizations can level up their gender equity and make working life better for folks of all genders:
Work on a gender balance at all levels. This begins with building a fair hiring process and ensuring female and non-binary candidates are in consideration for every role and, where possible, every promotion.
Develop networking programs. Research shows female employees disproportionately lack access to mentors and career-building relationships. By establishing mentoring opportunities for women – and creating networking programs to help female employees lift up others – organizations empower employees to create change.
Run bias training. Conscious or unconscious gender bias can cause women to be passed over for roles and promotions. One study showed women are as much as 21% less likely to be promoted than men! Once hired, female employees can face bias in performance evaluations (think the “motherhood penalty” against the “fatherhood bonus”). Bias training in areas of identity can help correct for this – and deepen awareness around sexism and gender identity in general.
Offer flexible work policies. Implementing flexible schedules, hybrid options and even part-time contracts builds an organization that will appeal to the strongest employees of all genders. In the YPO survey, 84% of respondents said their organizations offer flexible work options. A quarter of those agreed it was hugely impactful in creating a culture of gender inclusivity. We know women frequently juggle childcare and working life to a degree their male colleagues don’t, and managers who recognize this are best placed to get the most from everyone in their teams.
Fight pay disparity. The gender pay gap in the EU stood at 13.0 % in 2020 – and had barely budged over the last 10 years. To get things moving, managers should evaluate their pay structures to ensure all employees are receiving fair compensation based on qualifications.
Advocate for yourself. We can all be our own best advocates when it comes to asking for what we deserve. Studies show women in particular are less comfortable applying for ambitious positions, negotiating for higher salaries and persisting in seeking bonuses and promotions. If you believe you deserve a raise, be prepared with documentation that quantifies your accomplishments and shows your improvement over time. Be assertive and make sure you’re not apologizing – “I’m really sorry to be asking” undermines your case!
Speak up against sexism. Hear something casually sexist? Constructively and calmly call it out: Often people haven’t intended any harm and appreciate the chance to set it right. Meaningful conversations about gender equity at all levels of the organization go a long way toward creating an inclusive, supportive environment for folks of all genders.