Have you ever watched a news report about the gap in wages between men and women and thought, “That’s not the case in my company!” Or, have you ever heard about bias against one gender or the other in your industry and shrugged it off as irrelevant to your organization? If you’re like most professionals, the answers to those questions are probably yes.
Most businesses don’t believe there’s a gap between the genders in their workplace. Ninety-seven percent of Americans believe women should have equal rights, according to Pew Research Center. Still, women who work full-time year-round earn an average of 79% of men’s median annual earnings, according to the Women’s Bureau at the United States Department of Labor.
So, which is it? Are we treating women equally? Or is there a gender gap that’s going unrecognized?
Women in leadership
Perhaps one of the best places to start when self-reflecting on your organization is by looking at the makeup of the boardroom. Only about 15% of VC-funded companies have a woman on their executive team, according to a study by The Diana Project.
How many women sit in leadership positions in your company? How many women are on your board of directors? If there aren’t a lot, you’re clearly not alone, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to it.
Having more women in leadership roles can lead to greater profitability over time, according to Catalyst. Statistically, companies with the most women board directors outperform those with the least women board directors by 16%.
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There are also other, less tangible benefits to having greater diversity in your leadership, such as the ability to address gender imbalance to begin with.
Leadership numbers aren’t the only way to determine whether you’re facing gender inequality in your workforce. The way you engage your employees shows how much you trust them. Leave more trust in the hands of your employees—men and women alike—and you’ll naturally start on the path to revamp your business to promote gender inclusivity.
Technology is a great way to achieve this. By placing more responsibility in the hands of employees through the use of apps or cloud-based SaaS products, you’re able to give more control back to the minorities in your workplace who might have felt the repercussions of an unintentional bias in the past.
Babson College recently reviewed its gender equality measures and found that conversations taking place in the classroom were being led by men. It also found that case studies being used featured more men than women. Was this intentional? Probably not, but that doesn’t the school couldn’t actively reshape the way it communicated lessons to students.
Companies can do the same by targeting communications to everyone, regardless of gender. This requires awareness and an active desire to bridge the gap.
How can you make gender equality a reality in your business?
There’s no simple answer, mostly because most professionals remain largely unaware that this bias really does still exist. Perhaps the best place to start is internally. Talk to your employees. Look honestly at your organization to find places where you might accidentally have a gender gap remaining, and then actively work to fix it.