Levelling The Playing Field For Promotions

Aug 2, 2022
Bethany Carter

Giving promotions based on merit ensures that we are all playing on a level playing field in our working lives. Unfortunately, the recruitment process for promotions is flawed with gender bias.

Many of the challenges that women face are the same as those for men. Work/life balance, parenting, prioritising responsibilities, and multitasking are all common themes.

So why is it that when faced with similar challenges, men seem to excel in their careers while women are held back? And how should leaders ensure that opportunities are the same for both male and female employees?

An employee has to demonstrate competency as a minimum to be considered for promotion. That’s obvious. But there is something else in play that no one seems to acknowledge – self-promotion.

Employees who have their sights set on promotion have to make a conscious effort to be seen by potential hiring managers, putting themselves in the path of project opportunities, attending workshops and using their voice in meetings.

In short, employees undertake a campaign of self-promotion to attain promotion.

However, self-promotion within the workplace comes with double standards. While it is seen as admirable for a male employee to be decisive, assertive and ambitious, these attributes can be perceived as aggressive or ‘bitchy’ in a female employee. There remains a mismatch between what is expected of a leader and what is expected of a woman.

Five ways to ensure gender equality in promotions

So, how can companies eliminate gender bias in the promotion process and encourage a fairer environment that allows women to accelerate their careers at the same rate as men?

  • HR leaders should implement tools to reduce bias when reviewing candidates.According to org, fewer than one in four companies currently use tools to eliminate gender bias which means that “reviewers often fail to give equal consideration to women”.
  • Expand diverse candidate pool policies beyond the hiring process. The same criteria should be implemented throughout both internal and external recruitment processes.
  • Provide unconscious bias training for employees involved in performance reviews, as well as the hiring process.
  • Introduce flexible working and parental leave benefits. In clearly publishing policies surrounding maternity/paternity leave, childcare policies, and flexible working, organisations will begin to erode underlying gender discrimination, making it harder for team leaders and hiring managers to put their subjective opinions into play.
  • Promote a culture of meritocracy, where everyone’s views are valued. This ensures that all employees feel safe in voicing opinions without fearing negative consequences and can be implemented through bonus reward systems that motivate employees to keep contributing. Basically, it rewards self-promotion.

Why it’s essential to have a gender-equal leadership

Not only is recruiting, retaining and developing female leaders the right thing to do, it is also smart business. Women leaders bring a different perspective to the table.  A gender-equal leadership team can increase understanding and broaden insight, thus making senior management’s approach to challenges more agile and effective.

In turn, this benefits the bottom line. A Catalyst.org study reported that Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the Board outperform other companies with 53% more returns on equities, 42% more return on sales and 66% more return invested capital. Why then do women hold just 6% of CEO positions in top companies? This brings us back to the paradox of what a leader is and how it aligns with the way women are ‘supposed’ to behave.

Promoting women to top-level executive roles means that success trickles down and reaches more women who believe they can do it too and see self-promotion as an acceptable means of achieving their goals. It means more women feel inspired to achieve their full potential.

All employees should see women in leadership as the ‘norm’ and not something that bucks the trend. The erosion of bias will mean that the game of promotions will be one of equal teams.

The EQUAL-SALARY certification is a process that allows companies to verify and communicate that they pay their female and male employees equally for the same job or for a job of the same value.

 It’s a chance for organisations to put their values into action. To prove their commitment to equal pay for all.

 If you want to get EQUAL-SALARY certified, join the cause, become an ambassador or would just like to learn more, please get in touch.

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