What can you do as an HR Director/CEO/Senior Management decision-maker to improve gender equality at your company? How can you put your values into action?
In this article, we discuss the real actions you can take from the small things every day to the big policy changes.
Even with the best intentions, driving equality policies to ensure that they are put into practice can often be a challenge. Sometimes the vision is not always understood and implemented by middle managers, or staff do not always see enough of it in practice to appreciate what you are striving to achieve.
Clear goals and communication of those goals is essential.
The positive benefits of adopting a culture of equality are widely reported. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, “companies with low rates of both gender and racial diversity are 29% more likely to make less money”. Long-term success relies on a diverse workforce, particularly in leadership roles.
So as an organisational leader, what can you do to harness the benefits of an inclusive and diverse team?
Set the tone early in the recruitment process
The recruitment process should be a key focus for HR managers and should start with the way in which roles are advertised. Gender-neutral language should be used and signposts to your flexible working policy should be clearly highlighted.
By including only six new words in their job advertisements, Insurance Company Zurich saw a 16% increase in women applying for roles. In a separate study, run in conjunction with the UK Government’s Equalities Office and the Behavioural Insights Team, Zurich saw 33% more women hired for senior positions within the organisation.
What did Zurich do differently? They included the words “Part-time”, “Flexible-working” and “Job-share” in their advertisements.
This enabled women who have carer roles at home to feel confident in applying for promotions, knowing that their needs for flexible working will be automatically accepted. Would those women have felt confident enough to ask for flexible working had the signposts not been there? No one knows for sure, but the 33% increase speaks for itself.
The need for flexible working is also not just a female issue. Men also have non-work demands that can be supported by adopting a flexible working culture.
Remove bias in recruitment
During the interview stages, there is a lot that can be done by leaders to remove gender bias and ensure that the process focuses on skills.
Following a premeditated, standardised set of questions for each interview and grading answers in a standardised format will help recruiters and HR managers remove bias from the selection process.
Asking all candidates to complete a skill-based assessment will also help identify those more suited based on merit.
Women mentoring men
Mentoring programmes are a valuable weapon in tackling gender bias within organisations. When women mentor male colleagues, it actively demonstrates that the opinion of female employees and their approach to their role is valued within the organisation. The benefit to the organisation would hopefully be one of an eventual natural alignment, eliminating unconscious and deliberate bias.
Informal mentoring relationships are traditionally fostered outside of the office, as colleagues socialise on lunches, work/team nights out or on team building days. As the world starts to open up again post-pandemic, leaders should think of ways to ensure that they are adopting inclusive strategies for company outings. Nights out in bars not only poses a challenge for those with caring responsibilities, they also exclude colleagues who choose not to enter premises where alcohol is served for religious or cultural reasons. By excluding sections of your workforce, you are limiting their opportunities for career progression.
Listen to your employees
Gathering feedback from your employees is a useful exercise for all organisation leaders to implement. In the 2021 TINYPulse survey, respondents were asked to provide suggestions on how their organisation could improve its diversity, equality and inclusion practices. Women provided a 27% higher rate of suggestions than men.
Active listening by leaders can open up suggestions from a perspective that would have otherwise been missed. Publishing the results, with a clear route to addressing the issues, clearly communicates to your employees that you mean business in addressing the issue of inequality.
Get Equal-Salary Certified
The most effective marker of an organisation’s position on gender equality is its action on closing the gender pay gap. An organisation that is transparent in paying male and female workers the same salary for the same job not only retains top talent, but it also attracts it. Transparency builds trust with employees. Companies suffer less attrition and increased loyalty, meaning a healthier bottom line.
The EQUAL-SALARY Certification is a chance for companies to put their values into action and prove their commitment to equal pay for all.
You can learn more about how the certification is impacting the transformation of Philip Morris International (PMI) in our interview with Melissa Whiting, Vice President Inclusion & Diversity at Philip Morris International (PMI).
To talk to us about how you can start your journey to Equal Salary status, please get in touch.