Whether you refer to it as gender bias, the gender gap, or just plain stupid, it doesn’t matter. Ensuring gender equality in the workplace is not some idealistic goal. It is merely the right thing to do.
While many employers have seen the light and are finally taking steps to correct decades of wrong, the pandemic has made continued progress more complicated. Now with so many learning and development (L&D) professionals working remotely, changing the corporate culture is more complicated than ever.
However, if organizations focus their efforts on the 3 R’s, raises, recruiting, and retention, they can get closer than ever to achieving a level playing field. The fact is, equal pay for equal work is what is fair. Gender equality also applies to opportunities for career advancement.
Making lasting progress towards gender equality requires commitment. A recent study of “Women in the Workplace” found 87% of companies polled are committed to resolving internal bias. While this is a critical step in the right direction, success will ultimately be up to an organization’s leaders and hiring managers.
As a learning leader, the recruitment process is a great place to start when making changes to support gender equality in the workplace. Most traditional recruiting methods are proven and effective; however, hiring managers need to take things further.
If your company conducts group interviews to make hiring decisions, make sure to include a female voice for perspective. Additionally, identify female leaders and invite them to join hiring committees. Extend the discussion and encourage them to share their thoughts on the important issues for women in your organization.
Inviting more women to participate in the recruiting and hiring process helps ensure gender diversity. By intentionally leaving women out of the hiring process your organization may be missing out on some of the best talents in the workforce.
Addressing your current recruiting practices and making the necessary changes will help you continue moving in the right direction. On the other side of this issue is your ability to make sure existing team members are not leaving for better opportunities elsewhere due to a lack of gender neutrality in your organization.
After 40 years in accounting, progress has come about more slowly than she would have liked. For example, early in her career, she had to find a way to juggle raising a family while still going to the office every day.
While at work, she often faced a general lack of respect and professionalism from some of her male peers. This made many days in the office challenging and uncomfortable.
Ten years ago, when Vogin was hired by TrainingPros, she knew it was the right fit for her. With a focus on remote work, fair pay, and more recently a female President, Vogin is even more excited about her future.
“When I started my career, it was tough for women to succeed in the field. Thank goodness, things are much different now. Work from home options make it a lot easier to juggle work and raise a family,” she said. “It is encouraging to see more women being acknowledged and respected as the professionals they are.”
In recent years, companies and their leaders have made efforts to change the way female employees are supported. Some of these changes have improved gender equality more than others. Women today are finding more work-life balance than ever before. As such, many are thriving in higher-level leadership positions.
Increasing diversity in the leadership pipeline is another critical step in creating more gender inclusivity in the workplace. One way L&D leaders can enable the best and brightest is by adopting policies more favorable to women looking to pursue leadership roles. These efforts can also help with the challenges of balancing personal and professional life. Making it easier than previous generations of working women like Vogin.
Successful organizations know they have to retain the most talented members of their team. In the field of learning and development, this means paying close attention to the needs of women.
Some of the most sought after benefits by businesswomen include:
- Extended parental leave for primary caregivers
- Use of technology to increase flexibility and remote access to information
- Work from home and alternative hour options
- Resource groups to provide opportunities for learning and mentorship
Providing mentorship and professional development opportunities for women to advance their careers is crucial. This is also key to retaining the top talent on your team. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors for working women today involves closing the gender pay gap.
Pay is the common denominator for both men and women in the workforce. Everyone is working for a paycheck, and everyone wants to be paid fairly for the job they do.
Equal pay for equal work is a battle women have fought for decades. Women in the same roles as men, with the same responsibilities, should be paid the same you would think. However, this argument is long from settled and rages on every day in companies all over the world.
As an L&D leader, you are more equipped than many in your organization to affect meaningful change. Leverage your platform to educate other leaders about ways they can eliminate gender bias.
When filling open positions, take the extra step to ask questions which will allow candidates to highlight their expertise. This will give you the necessary information to make better decisions regarding starting salaries. Then speak up and demand compensation for your employees in line with their skills and responsibilities, not their gender.
The topic of pay equality is a complex issue with many layers. It is not something that one person can fix alone. However, complacency will only add to the problem.
In the L&D industry, the time to take action and address gender inequality is now.
Do your part. Challenge the way your organization approaches gender issues. If you see an opportunity to make a difference, embrace it. Collectively, promoting equality between men and women is how permanent change will eventually come about.
Act now. Act boldly. Do the right thing. Treat people fairly. It’s that simple.
As a leader in the L&D community, how do you support the women you employ? What are some of the ways you have empowered female coworkers? What each of us does matters, share your thoughts with me!