Gender discrimination has been existing since time immemorial be it in an orthodox family, a village community or a modern work place. It occurs through different practices whether overt or covert, affecting women, more so in their daily professional or work life, in the roles or jobs they are given or are asked to handle and not just that, but also the compensation or growth opportunities associated with such career(s). The number of jobs women undertake as opposed to men, has traditionally been lower, even in advanced societies, with the trend over the last decade being not very favorable to them. Rejection for roles which are typically bracketed as “man’s work” to lower compensation offers, equal opportunity at workplace seems a distant dream even when Governments across the globe have pursued that as a policy. Mobility and work hours have affected their competing ability but the COVID-19-19 may have provided a wonderful opportunity in creating a level playing field.
For organizations/employers that believe in equality, below are some recommended approaches they can take to encourage gender equality and create equal opportunities for them in the workplace:-
1. Train your managers
Water flows downwards and it is imperative that the management team should be thoroughly and periodically trained on gender equality and the associated vision of the organization. HR functionaries as well as people managers should be made aware of both the obvious and subtle discrimination that takes place in the workplace when an employer insists and adopts the policy of equal opportunity employment.
Employees should be provided adequate training and guidance in making sure equal opportunity exists, to identify discrimination when it takes place among the team members and to deal with it or prevent it from happening again.
2. Help your employees in striking a work-life balance
Women are equal but not identical to men in biological situations like pregnancy, where they need to take a sabbatical or time off in taking care of themselves and their children. Women are often forced to take a pay cut when they decide to join back in career after such a sabbatical or break. Many times, women suffer both physically and emotionally as they juggle between their professional work and taking care of a baby. The biggest hurdle that women face at their workplaces is the lack of childcare support from their employers, even after an elaborate change in the associated law on Maternity Benefits. Companies should consider providing flexibility in work timings or remote working options to parents especially new mothers. They should provide employees with quality, on-site childcare facilities and not as a mere compliance need.
3. Remove the gender pay gap
Till the time, the gender pay gaps are not eliminated from the industry, the inequality will continue to perpetuate. Progressive employers should facilitate a culture of transparency that ensures men and women are compensated according to the role and not based on their gender. Moreover, policies should be put in place that ensures that both genders are treated fairly and equally in recruitment, training, hiring, and promotion.
4. Make mentors available to everyone
To encourage female equality in the workplace takes more than just treating them with respect and basic decency. It also means not isolating or ignoring them and making access to resources equal for them. The idea is to provide equal opportunities to both the genders in order to grow and succeed. Hence a buddy program or a mentor program for a young mother returning to work will greatly help in acclimatization.
5. Have a zero-tolerance policy against harassment
Sexual harassment has adverse physical and mental health effects on the person who has faced it/facing it. It is imperative that every employer identifies any signs of harassment at the workplace and establishes a strict policy that forbids any form of sexual harassment. They should educate all employees in detail about the repercussions that will arise if a person is found guilty of sexually harassing any employee.
According to a US agency, 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported altogether. The employer should make sure that the employees feel free to share their concerns with their employer or management without any fear of retribution and provide avenues for reporting any acts of harassment in the workplace.
We have evolved in all aspects but the existence of Gender discrimination in this century remains one of the biggest challenges at our workplaces as well as society. Promoting gender equality is not difficult, but it takes management in the office to remain committed to ensure equality, take necessary actions, establish guidelines and enforce them so that the women can work freely without any judgments and discrimination.