The modern workplace is diverse. The hiring process champions equality, which manifests on the floor with employees hailing from different backgrounds. But diversity should not be superficial. For instance, you cannot call your organization gender-equal just because women and LGBTQIA+ employees are well represented across departments. It takes way more than that.
Yes, it’s a tall order. But it’s not impractical. You have the power to turn your organization into a progressive workplace that fosters diversity and equality across the board. One that does not care solely about optics but one that walks the talk. Here are some recommendations.
Make gender equality a business priority
Do not treat gender equality as a side project of sorts. Instead, see it as a priority that the entire organization has to work on. Keep in mind that a diverse pool of employees affords you wide-ranging talents, skills, and expertise. A homogenous company, meanwhile, is detrimental to growth.
Make sure that gender equality is championed from up the corporate ladder down to the rank-and-file employees. Operational departments, such as human resource management, should be guided by gender-equal paradigms. Then find ways to record and track the results of your company-wide efforts.
Know your legal responsibilities
A gender-equal workplace is not an optional or seasonal cause you can choose when to promote and highlight. It’s basic human rights that you have to adhere to. That is if you do not want to get in trouble with the law. Refer to the legal guidelines outlined by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC ensures that no workers are discriminated against. Included in those protected by the office are women and LGBTQIA+ employees. Make sure you have legal counsel that keeps abreast of EEOC compliance standards. Here, you cannot afford to cut corners.
If you can, explore ways to accommodate the needs of, for example, female employees. One way to do this is by offering flexible working schedules to working moms.
So long as they accomplish all their deliverables and are present at the office during critical business hours, there’s no reason to demand them to come to work strictly from 9 to 5. A simple adjustment to their clock-in time could mean they’ll have enough time to send their school-age children to school.
Re-evaluate the hiring process for top management
Your goal is not to lower your standards. What you want to do is gauge whether the current job specifications and requirements you impose for senior managers are still practical. Things change. Your company has probably grown. There’s no reason why you need to stick to the old ways when new ways of conducting business exist.
For example, why specifically require 15 years of mid-level managerial experience for senior management applicants if 10 years will do? This minor adjustment could mean you’re opening up the position to a more diverse pool of applicants.
Educate your team
People have biases. What you can do is pursue active counterprogramming to get rid of whatever prejudices history has influenced members of your organization. This is where education comes in. You must allow your team to grow as better people and colleagues, and more importantly, aid that growth.
Conduct team-building sessions or seminars that zero in on gender discrimination. Encourage everyone to ask questions. Make sure the people you invite as key speakers and moderators are known in the community and know what they’re talking about. The goal is to unpack the subject through open communication.
Promote equal pay
This does not mean you have to offer the same remuneration package to all employees, especially those historically disenfranchised, such as women and LGBTQIA+. This means you need to provide the same salary and benefits to employees doing the same work, regardless of their gender.
A Payscale report on the gender pay gap revealed that in 2020, women were paid 19% less than their male counterparts doing the same job. No matter how you look at it, there’s no logical explanation for this pay gap other than the problematic fact that the patriarchy still holds sway.
Reassess interview questions
The interview process sets the tone for an organization’s culture concerning gender equality. If you ask a woman applicant outdated queries about being a mom and juggling work and family responsibilities, you’re revealing your organization to be working within antiquated social paradigms.
If you don’t plan on asking the same question to a male applicant who’s a father, then that question deserves to be thrown out the window.
The same rule applies to when you’re interviewing someone from the LBGTQIA+ spectrum. If you ask lifestyle questions that have nothing to do with the role and responsibilities of the job, that’s being unprofessional.
Impose strict policies against workplace discrimination and harassment
If your company chronically sweeps gender-based discrimination and harassment issues under the rug, those commonly subjected to these ideally intolerable actions will work in fear. This practice will be detrimental to your organization’s culture. Employee morale will suffer, which can lead to decreased productivity and a fast turnover rate.
Often, the casualties will be your disenfranchised employees. That leaves you with a homogenous pool of employees that may have poor characteristics. So, write clear policies that present your unequivocal stand on the issue of workplace discrimination and harassment, especially gender-based. Make sure everyone in the organization takes these policies to heart.
Diversity and equality in the workplace should be a top priority for all businesses. If done right, it will enhance the culture within your organization. Positive workplace culture, in turn, will boost employee morale. Obviously, that will have favorable impacts on your business metrics.
One key issue to confront is gender equality. While there has been significant progress as a society when it comes to respecting women and LGBTQIA+ workers, there is still a lot of work to do to achieve unbiased treatment of employees. Have everyone in your organization onboard your journey toward a gender-equal workplace. For this journey to succeed, no one should be left behind.
About the Author
Viridiana Valdes: Experienced Marketing Specialist at Shegerian & Associates with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Business Process, Negotiation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Management, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Strong marketing professional with a Strategic Marketing focused in Marketing from Panamerican Consulting Group and Universidad Rafael Landivar.