Despite the efforts of many progressive people and companies, gender inequality still exists in workplaces.
International Women’s Day (IWD) occurs this year on March 8th. IWD is a day to remember that as long as any woman faces harassment, oppression or discrimination, we all do. It’s also a day to encourage tangible action that will support women in the workplace, in the community and globally.
Despite the efforts of many progressive people and companies, gender inequality still exists in workplaces. It can take many forms: pay discrimination, the prevalence of sexual harassment, an uneven ratio of men and women in positions of power, or women feeling they have to make a choice between family and career.
Recent data from Mckinsey determined that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted. This gap was even more significant for Black and Latina women (in this US-based study).
Workplace inequality is such a priority in Australia that it resulted in the creation of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) following the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. WGEA reports the gender pay gap now stands at 13.4 per cent. This figure was taken from 2020 data when Australia was at the height of lockdown and many were under-employed or had reduced hours. As a result, the gender pay gap may actually be larger than reported.
Three ways to support women in the workplace
Every single person has a role in creating a workplace that celebrates diversity and facilitate gender equality. Here are three ways to support women in the workplace.
Educate on far-reaching inequality
While some people might understand some types of gender inequality, the challenges women face are far-reaching. According to data from the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA):
- 87,000 women are killed every year just because they are women
- 7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same jobs as men
- 45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence
- 35 per cent of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence
Learning about the challenges women face and quantifying just how many women are affected globally, can better equip you to help. It can inspire change in the workplace as well as help you become more deliberate in the choices you make.
Provide opportunities to women
It’s hard to prescribe how this will play out in each business, but part of being deliberate in your choices is consciously providing pathways for women to succeed.
One such example is the mum penalty. Women are more likely to take time off work to look after their children and are three times more likely than men to work part-time after becoming a parent. As a result, women retire with half the superannuation of men. To help, a business could provide:
- Paid parental leave in addition to the government scheme.
- Flexible parental leave.
- Flexible working arrangements for women at all stages of their careers, normalising the idea of flexible work.
- Breast-feeding facilities.
- A program to keep in regular contact with mothers on parental leave and help them return to work after their leave ends.
Ensure women are part of key decisions
Women’s thoughts and interests need to be reflected in the decision-making process. According to the WGEA, women make up 32.5 per cent of key management positions, 18.3 per cent of CEOs and 14.6 per cent of board chairs. Actively sponsoring rising women in the workplace can help propel them into decision-making positions and counter these lopsided statistics.