By Gemma Lloyd
International Women’s Day is on 8 March 2020 and this year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It’s a good reminder that everyone has a role to play in helping create a gender equal world.
And a gender equal world means a gender equal workplace, where people are able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities regardless of gender.
While corporate Australia has been making progress on this front, it has a long way to go, with women still significantly underrepresented in leadership. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 13.7% of chair positions are held by women and only 17.1% of CEO positions.
Not only is a gender equal workplace what’s right and fair, it also makes good business sense. Working with some of Australia’s top employers, we see those companies with progressive gender equality policies consistently able to attract higher calibre talent – and retain them for longer. And the benefits of gender equality don’t stop there.
Gender equality health check
So how is your organisation tracking towards gender equality? Maybe it’s made progress in some areas but struggling in others, or there’s policies in place but room for improvement.
Conducting a gender audit is a good way to identify challenges and opportunities for increasing equality within your organisation, and create a plan for action.
WORK180 has gathered data from Australia’s most progressive companies, analysing their policies on flexible working, equal pay, parental support, career development and employee assistance. The result is a report and HR Health Check tool that employers can use to benchmark themselves against the best in their industry.
The HR Health Check only takes 10 minutes, and you’ll get a rating and high-level report comparing your business – you can get started here.
Future proofing your business
By being aware of HR benchmarks and trends, you’re in a better position to make informed policy decisions, and implement strategies that grow and future proof your business.
According to an EY global study, millennials will make up more than 75% of the workforce by 2025. And for them, a healthy work/life balance isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a deal-breaker.
In order to grow and future proof their businesses, and be able to attract and retain this massive segment of the workforce, organisations need to make changes to the way they engage with employees.
Smart companies are already doing just that. They’re changing and developing their policies and HR benefits, promoting positive outcomes for employees and employers, and offering greater support than the archaic and rigid workplace policies of the past.
8 ways to boost gender equality
Aside from conducting a gender audit and evolving policies, what are some practical ways that organisations can foster gender equality? In this WORK180 blog post, Dr Leonora Risse from RMIT University offered some useful tips:
- Make everyone automatically eligible for job promotions – instead of relying on candidates to self-nominate, which women are less likely to do, switch promotional opportunities from a choice to an automatic process.
- Don’t ask for volunteers, appoint them – don’t rely on community-minded women to voluntarily do the ‘office housework’. Instead, appoint these tasks systematically to ensure everyone in the office does their fair share.
- Remove gendered language from job ads – words that are stereotypically masculine or feminine in a job ad can have a powerful impact on whether a candidate applies or not. Use online gender bias decoder tools to screen job ads and make them more gender neutral.
- Calculate your organisation’s pay gap – companies need to first measure and recognise the existence of their gender pay gap, before they can fix it.
- Banish ‘manels’ – ensuring women are represented among panellists and speaker line-ups is critical for generating diversity of thought.
- Hand the microphone to a woman first – research shows that if a female asks the first question in a Q&A situation, it leads to more women asking questions than they would otherwise.
- Whose names and faces are on your walls? – if it’s mainly men, think about the message this sends about gender equality in your organisation.
- Explain why gender equality matters for men too – clearly communicate to your employees how gender equality and inclusive work practices deliver better outcomes for all.
Join Gemma on 6th March at IML ANZ’s International Women’s Day Great Debate Event in Brisbane. Gemma will be joining five other leaders to debate whether ‘The world won’t listen unless women shout’.