Amalgamating the cross-roads that is women empowerment and gender diversityVidya Ramakrishnan
According to 2016, Monster Salary Index on gender, India at 25.8% has the second widest gender pay gap and it increases as one goes up the hierarchy. Moreover, the World Economic Report on gender pay stated that with the current rate of progress, it would take another 200 years to bridge the gap. Many large corporations have taken up the challenge and are increasingly encouraging women leadership and taking measures to ensure the same. For example, Adobe India has achieved 100% pay parity and leading the way for the information technology sector.
Women in today’s corporate world are driving change, innovation, and business while accelerating profits and enhancing culture. Women in leadership are taking initiatives to set expectations about diversity, gender equality and closing the pay gap. In this blog, let us find out the major challenges faced by women in the workplace, how to overcome them, what organizations can do to support women at work, and how women can up their game along the corporate ladder.
2016, Monster Salary Index on gender threw a lot of light on the current issues of working women. Although not a happy picture, it highlighted major problem areas and the need to change them. According to the report, 41% women felt that the transport facility provided was inadequate, 33% felt that the attitude of peers, clients and vendors were challenging and 32% felt that they were discouraged from working long hours due to societal perception.
For more than 50 years women have been battling the same demons in their workplaces like sexual harassment, lower hiring rates, pay gaps, lower promotion rates and so on. However, beyond these challenges, the top reasons women feel under-represented in their workplace are an organizational culture that does not support gender equality, poor leadership and career progression strategies, and preference of the management to promote men to women to represent leadership positions.
In 2010, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the UN Global compact drafted a set of principles underlining business guidance to empower women at work, home, and in their lives. The act was so popular that over 1,800 CEOs across the globe have signed up to embrace the principles to promote gender diversity in their organizations.
Over the past decade, the topic of gender diversity and women empowerment has gained much traction leading to many surveys and studies. However, every survey and study states that empowering women increasingly brought about significant business benefits, increased profits, and short-term investment growth. Research also suggests that promoting women in administrative roles diversified decision-making. Encouraging gender diversity helped build successful and robust teams, bring about better business, greater revenue, higher organizational culture and value, better talent retention and a superior workforce. Some of the simple steps management can take to ensure gender diversity and empower women to include:
Making your organization more conducive for women employees to work in is one of the best actions that organizations today are adopting. Gender sensitization includes stronger maternity leave policies, workplace safety, flexible work timings, a fair paternal leave policy, and strict rules and immediate action against workplace harassment.
Bridging the pay gap
The statistic shows that a woman earns only 80% of the salary for the same job and duration as that of her male counterpart and the percentage varies across geographical locations. A simple way to ensure pay parity is to conduct pay-equity audits. This creates salary data transparency and reduces wage gaps or other possible discriminations.
Women in leadership positions inspire gender diversity and facilitate a diverse workplace with innovative goals, and better organizational culture and value. The idea is not to encourage women to mimic the opposite gender by being more aggressive but to empower them to play to their strengths of prioritizing, negotiating, and nurturing.
Mentoring and Training
Mentoring initiatives, like motivation sessions involving women in leadership positions talking about their challenges, and how they made the transition act as a positive trigger to women who would like to pursue their dreams and ambitions. Furthermore, conducting workshops around forward-thinking topics like unconscious bias, safety in the workplace for women are some of the initiatives to foster a supportive, positive and gender diverse environment, and building an inclusive culture.
In short, any organization stands to gain economically and financially when they embrace a gender diverse culture. By focusing on training, accountability, and results regardless of gender, employers garner employee trust and loyalty-inspiring a more productive workplace.
To achieve their pinnacle of success, women must first achieve victory over their internal demons along with the society’s perspectives. To resist the tide of prejudice they should empower themselves from within, by overcoming their fear of making mistakes and inferior thinking. When a woman, embraces mistakes to learn from them, handle criticism without feeling inferior and tackle peer pressure with calm and confident demeanour is when she becomes truly empowered. Self-motivation and setting professional goals will help them achieve the success they desire. Moreover, women mentoring other women can help overcome barriers from within the system and help to accelerate the gender equalization process smoothly.
Adapting to changing perspectives
Today, working professionals have career opportunities that are more or less consistent across genders. Although women still face problems that hinder their growth trajectory within an organization there are major reformation measures in place to overcome them. The need of the hour is strong women leaders who can act as role models and inspire gender diversity. Moreover, management must actively identify motivational factors that will drive employees to embrace gender diversity and harness the strength of diverse teams into producing quality outcomes. Mentoring and encouraging women to highlight their leadership skills can definitely influence more women to take up challenging roles. In short, gender diversity in a workplace is important and having strong and influential women leaders will do the trick to achieving a true gender equal organization.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)