Comprehensive Action Plans for Creating Gender Equality in the Workplace
In recent years, gender equality in the workplace has been a focus for decades, but it’s risen to an even higher level of prominence is recent years as studies show an enduring legacy of unequal pay and experts have unveiled just how difficult the problem can be to solve even if companies put forth a geniune effort. With these challenges, however, come ample opportunity for providing a fair work environment and encouraging women to apply for jobs and thrive in the workplace. Here are some guidelines to consider.
Many companies are surprised to find that, despite their best efforts, gender pay gaps still seem to arise over time. Before determining which steps to take, collect information about salary and find out where gaps exist at your company. Furthermore, ensure that gathering data will be part of your regular operations going forward. Solving the gender pay gap takes time, but you can only know whether your efforts are working if you track your results. This information shows that your company is concerned about solving problems with inequality even if pay gaps seem to linger in the future.
It’s not up to all women working for your company to provide input, but many women enjoy the opportunity to add their voice to the conversation. Create a safe environment for women to share their specific concerns about your company, and offer an environment for groups to meet and develop proposals. It’s also important to ensure all voices can be heard, so consider providing an anonymous means for women to share their concerns with management. Even if your company promises to not hold negative feedback against employees, many simply won’t feel comfortable sharing information. Anonymity can be a tremendous tool.
Consider Big Ideas First
Before taking a more piecemeal approach to solving the gender pay gap, first look at major changes. Some companies have attempted to solve the issue by eliminating salary negotiations altogether, as negotiations have been cited as a reason why gaps persist. Such changes, however, can lead to potential employees passing your company up, potentially creating more problems. Similarly, some companies attempt to blind the hiring process as much as possible, leaving off names and other gender-revealing information. If your company means to utilize any of these techniques, they’ll be important data points when crafting the rest of your action plan.
Objective Promotion Process
One of the major factor experts point to in terms of the gender pay gap is promotions: If men are more likely to be promoted than their female counterparts, pay gaps can quickly grow. Focus on making your promotions are objective as possible, and try to collect as many data points as possible. Furthermore, seek to create better gender balance when rating employees’ contributions in work, as small and subtle biases can have an impact on ratings. Make sure metrics used in the promotion process are as well-known as possible, and consider providing regular feedback to help all employees know what is expected of those seeking out a promotion.
Find Performance Disparities
When collecting data for promotions or other uses, examine cases where men and women tend to perform at different levels. Finding these disparities can help you give women the information they need to perform better in the office, and it helps you set up mentoring programs. These disparities might also outline another problem common in businesses: What is your company prioritizing? If your company is prioritizing factors that the men you hire tend to perform better at, you might be missing out on the contributions women in your company make. If you find that men tend to perform better on factors that play an outsized role when handling promotions or raises, it might be worth taking another look at these factors and placing more of an emphasis on skills where women tend to succeed.
Hire Women in Leadership Positions
Simply having a role model can be enough to spur better success among people in a particular demographic, and historical disparities can have an influence on your office today. If you’re looking to hire more senior-level employees, make sure to seek out women who can perform the task, as doing so can provide women at your company with a target to look up to. If you’re considering implementing mentoring programs in the office, note that women sometimes feel better when they know they have other women to talk to. Mentoring shouldn’t be a gender-segregated activity, but having women involved in the process can help you outline areas where your company is struggling.
There’s no simple solution to the gender gap, but companies that study the issues and implement action plans are better able to close the gap as much as possible. Results won’t occur overnight, but a sustained effort will prove worthwhile.
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