It’s time to break the bias. This year’s International Women’s Day calls for people to speak out on gender bias, discrimination and stereotypes.
Deliberate or unconscious, gender bias creates hurdles for women to move ahead in society and the workplace. Now, more than ever, action is needed to level the playing field.
Here’s how to empower women today and tomorrow in your organization:
Check your bias
Despite years of progress, gender bias is still a real thing. For women at work, it can be a considerable obstacle. Often women in the workplace who are assertive can be perceived as aggressive. However, when a male counterpart shares the same characteristics, they’re often perceived as confident. This is a typical example of gender bias with women in the workplace.
As realities like this persist, professionals must see each other as who we are: professionals. To ensure this, it is vital that we consistently check our biases.
Tips for preventing gender bias in the workplace:
Reflect on your ideas, stereotypes and prejudices.
Educate yourself about bias
Eliminating gender bias in the workplace will only encourage great ideas, innovation and inclusivity among peers. Women will feel more encouraged to share their perspectives when they feel acknowledged and safe. When everyone is uplifted, diverse teams are in full effect, which leads to better decisions and better results for your organization.
Rethink job descriptions
In many industries, women are disproportionately underrepresented in the workforce. Despite making up half of the population and nearly half of the workforce, women are steps behind men at all levels in the workplace, from entry-level to the c-suite.
Here are some facts from Mckinsey to consider:
For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women are promoted
Starting in 2020, women held 38% of manager-level positions, while men held 62%.
These staggering statistics support the notion that there is much work to be done regarding gender equity for women in the workplace. Yet, there is still hope for progress. One of the most significant ways to empower women in the workplace is to get them in the workplace. And that starts with the job description.
When reading a job description, many women feel they need to have 100% of the skills listed to apply for a role. However, men only feel the need to have 60% of the required skills. To encourage women to apply for positions, organizations must reframe job descriptions. Promoting inclusivity begins with the application process.
Here’s how to avoid gender bias in jobs descriptions:
Use gender-neutral job titles
Use gender-neutral language in the description
State your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
Evaluate your requirements by only listing the skills needed
Be flexible on requirements
Allow for on-the-job training
Provide support for working parents
Equity in the workplace for women also includes providing equity for those who have to be present for caregiving. Now more than ever, organizations need to work together to serve employees with children and families.
Since the pandemic, many families have struggled to find childcare solutions and change their work schedules for home life. This dilemma has resulted in the exodus of women from the workforce due to childcare woes.
In fact, the number of women citing family responsibilities as their source of workforce departure increased 178% during the COVID-19 pandemic. To counter this trend and prevent a shrinking talent pool, organizations must transform their work culture to embrace working parents.
How to support working parents in the workplace:
Offer paid parental leave
Build a family-friendly work culture
Leverage remote work
Provide in-house/external childcare option
Advocate for pay equity
Even in 2022, the gender pay gap is still a big issue. Women make 23% less than men managers. The numbers worsen for women of color with 38% for Black women and 45% for Latina women.
Pay equity is essential for organizations because it creates a fair, inclusive workplace for all, including women. It shows employees that an employer values their work, regardless of gender or demographic status.
And companies have much to benefit from when pay equity across gender is achieved, including better team morale, employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Here’s how to encourage pay equity at work:
Publish criteria for employee performance scoring
Offer training to promote advancement and opportunities for all
Make salary transparent
Review and standardize compensation
Choose to “break the bias” this month and beyond. Change can become a reality when everyone puts forth an effort to reach a shared goal.
At work, be an advocate for women through your actions. Whether it’s promoting institutional change or simply recognizing a female colleague, you can make a difference. Use these tactics and ideas above to empower women today and every day in your organization.