Ways to Support Gender Equality in the Workplace
It wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t able to report sexual harassment at work, and employers weren’t even legally required to provide maternity leave until 1993. While we’ve made huge gains in women’s rights since then, we still need to do more to level the playing field.
This article examines specific ways for both employers and employees to work together to support gender equality in the workplace.
Fast facts about gender equality
- Only one in 10 senior leaders is a woman.
- Only 24 (or about 3.5%) of TSX-listed Canadian companies had a woman CEO as of July 2019
- Women spend, on average, 3 hours and 44 minutes per day on unpaid work, compared with an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes for men.
- In 2019, full-time employed women (ages 15 and older) earned $0.89 for every dollar men earned, based on average hourly wages.
How employers can improve gender equality in the workplace
When your employees hear about the importance of gender equality from the top-down, they’ll be more willing to work toward this goal. Below are some ideas to get started:
Recognize inequality and vocalize your goals
Only 33% of men surveyed for a Forbes article believed that gender bias exists in the workplace, and only 10% thought their own workplaces treated women unfairly.
The first step to implementing important change is to recognize a problem exists in the first place. It’s crucial to clearly lay out how the company plans to better support its female employees—and then stay accountable.
There are benefits of gender equality, too. A study on diversity in the workplace found that companies that prioritized gender diversity had better financial returns than their competition.
Conduct a gender equality audit
A simple way to highlight areas of improvement is through hard data. Websites like Glassdoor and Brookings offer comprehensive guides that HR departments can use to conduct a gender pay gap analysis and ensure there are unbiased metrics in place for hiring and promotions.
The results may help you weed out biased language in company documents, or it may push you to add a female executive to the board. It’s crucial to track goals and offer transparency about your progress.
Invest in more training
Additional training on sexual harassment policies and unconscious bias will ensure that your employees are on the same page and know exactly how to recognize and address any unfair treatment.
Companies have also starting bringing in experts to coach women on topics like leadership or how to negotiate a raise. Allotting company funds for female-focused events shows you are prioritizing a fair and diverse working environment.
Fundraise to offset extra costs
If there’s no room in the budget for audits, specialized training, or guest speakers, fundraising might be a good option. Using popular crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe can help you increase your budget so you don’t have to sacrifice the well-being of your employees. GoFundMe also offers a 0% platform fee, which allows you to keep more of the money you raise.
Create more flexibility for your employees
According to McKinsey & Company, 54% of women do all or most of the household work compared to 22% of men, a gap that grows when children are thrown into the mix. For women, this can feel like two full-time jobs. Allowing your employees to choose their own hours between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., for example, can make all the difference to some families. Offering a competitive maternity and paternity leave plan is another way to reduce stress and attrition.
How employees can make a difference
While it might seem like management has to sign off on most major company-wide changes, employees can also do their part to be part of the solution.
Create a women’s resource group
A women’s resource group (WRG) is an invaluable way to unite the women in your company so you can work toward the common goal of equality. Creating a unified hub where women can share professional advice, receive mentoring and support, and lean on each other can spur considerable change within a company.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, consider starting a Lean In Circle. The organization provides endless resources as well as material to spark discussion in your circle.
Get your managers on board
Without support from managers, it is difficult to see significant change in a company. Managers have a direct effect on what policies are implemented, so it’s important to alert them to the problems that exist and collaborate on solutions. Women are also more likely to advance in their careers when they regularly interact with managers and executives.
Be sure to specifically connect with your male managers, as having male allies in positions of power is paramount to creating change. If your male co-workers and managers need some guidance, The Wall Street Journal lays out the dos and don’ts of being a supportive male ally in the workplace.
Fundraise for gender equality
Coming together to support organizations that advocate for women and help them fight discrimination is another way you can make a positive change. Whether you’d like to fundraise for women’s health or raise money for charity organizations that support equality, we’ve got you covered:
- Catalyst is an organization that helps women remove barriers in the workplace and create inclusive cultures so that they can advance to leadership roles.
- PERIOD has a simple goal: bring menstrual products to everyone who needs them. They’re also fighting to repeal the tampon tax and lobbying for menstrual products in public places.
- The Girl Impact strives to empower young girls in three different countries in Africa by providing health education and teaching them valuable leadership skills. The company also educates boys and young men so they can understand the importance of gender equality.
- Ladies Get Paid wants to close the gender pay gap once and for all and—you guessed it—help you get paid what you deserve. They offer coaching and networking opportunities, and a strong community of women to network with.
Ask management to fill in the gaps
Hone your negotiating skills, then boldly ask management to provide more training and resources for your company’s women (and men) so everyone is set up for success.
If certain policies are non-existent or need to be improved, like paid maternity leave, flexible working hours, or telecommuting, you can brainstorm with your WRG on the best way to ask for more.
Use crowdfunding to support gender equality
Not every company will have the budget to invest in additional audits, training sessions, or employee groups to help improve gender equality. This is when online fundraising truly shines.
Starting a crowdfunding fundraiser is quick and free, and sharing your cause with friends, family members, and co-workers is easy. Once you email or text your fundraiser link to your network, they can all view your fundraiser and donate within minutes.
People who used crowdfunding to help women
The women behind the Level Up movement had a vision of uniting feminists in Britain who could work to end sexism in and out of the workplace. They started their GoFundMe fundraiser so they could fund an organization for women’s rights. Their fundraiser surpassed its goal, raising more than £27,980.
A small group of Hollywood celebrities set up this fundraiser to pay the legal fees of women who were victims of discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, or abuse in the workplace. The fundraiser spread rapidly through Hollywood and the rest of the world, raising over $22 million to fight for women’s rights.
Stand up for women now
Gender diversity and equality in the workplace is a big issue to tackle, but large-scale change starts with individuals. Countless people have explored crowdfunding when they didn’t have the financial means to support a cause they were passionate about. Launch your own GoFundMe fundraiser today and start making a difference for women in and out of the workplace.