Gender equality is a must in modern society, but did you know it can also boost your company’s bottom line? In addition to creating a welcoming work environment for all of your employees, doing your part to close the gender gap helps improve the economy. In fact, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, closing Canada’s gender gap could increase GDP by as much as $150 billion over the next ten years. Of course, closing the gender gap is a complicated issue that takes time and effort, so now is the time to get started. Learn about the benefits of promoting gender equality in the workplace, and follow action steps to set the wheels in motion.
The Financial Benefits of Gender Equality
While the societal benefits of gender equality are obvious, the financial advantages are often overlooked. When women are treated fairly in the workplace, they naturally contribute to the workforce in larger quantities. Having more workers — all receiving equal pay regardless of gender — puts more money into the hands of consumers, organically stimulating economic growth. Closing the wage gap allows people to take control of their personal finances, and it also gives couples the ability to contribute to family expenses equally. This encourages spending, as the financial burden doesn’t fall heavily on one sole member of the household.
Besides stimulating the economy, closing the gender gap can boost your company’s bottom line directly. Equality in the workplace keeps morale high, and happy employees are more productive. Additionally, fostering a welcoming work environment improves staff retention. After all, finding, hiring, and training new employees is extremely expensive, and high turnover rates really cut into your profits. Taking steps to promote equality and diversity also enhances your brand and reputation. It may even help you attract new talent outside of your typical hires, as well as new clients, customers, and other business associates and partners.
Lead by Example
The first step in closing the gender gap in your business is to be a bold leader. The boss sets the tone for the office, and it’s up to you to make it clear that all genders are to be treated equally. For example, if you need a small group to help you brainstorm project ideas, you could make sure to select both men and women. All too often, bosses delegate responsibilities disproportionately to people of their own gender. It’s usually unintentional, as it’s common for people to feel more confident with people who are relatable. However, it’s important to branch out and expand your horizons to create an inclusive work environment. As an added bonus, diverse perspectives often lead to exciting outcomes.
Implement Favourable Child Care Policies
Another big step that you can take to close the gender gap is encouraging men to be more active when it comes to child care and maternity leave. When the responsibility falls on men and women equally, women don’t have to worry about discrimination associated with child care. For example, if a man and women both apply for a job that requires a significant long-term time commitment, the man may get hired because there’s no risk of him taking months off for maternity leave. When you require or at least encourage both genders to participate in child care, there’s no hiring bias from the manager or guilt from women who feel like they’re neglecting their professional duties by taking required time off.
Be Transparent With Salary
Women are frequently compensated disproportionately to their equal male coworkers. In some cases, this may be because women are less likely to negotiate salaries if the opportunity is presented. Instead of negotiating base pay, you may want to be more up front and direct. While it’s not always possible to advertise your salary publicly or even have a set salary for every position, you can make sure to give women with equal skills, education, and experience the same salaries as their male counterparts.
You can also analyze data to determine where the wage gap is occurring. For example, if two salespeople — a man and a woman — both have roughly the same amount of yearly sales, they should be compensated equally. Try to find those types of situations in which a women is contributing equally and being paid less, and handle them appropriately, whether it’s through giving a raise, promotion, or a bonus.
Create a Positive and Empowering Environment
Cultivating an empowering work atmosphere is one of the most crucial steps for closing the gender gap. Sometimes the divide between genders isn’t caused by salary or inclusion, but simply a general mood, feel, and tone in the office. Your goal is to create a work environment where everyone feels like they have a voice. You can encourage people to feel comfortable in their own skin by allowing them to be creative and express themselves. For example, you could loosen the dress code, hire more people from diverse backgrounds, and allow people to work from home. These types of little details can really make an office environment feel more relaxed, warm, and welcoming — for everyone.
You’re not going to close the gender gap overnight. However, simply acknowledging that it exists is the first step in building a bridge. Be aware of how comments, actions, and even looks can make people feel. Be empathetic and willing to listen. Try to recognize that everyone is unique, and some people may be more sensitive than others, regardless of their gender. Create a community of people that feel comfortable and confident working together and you’re going to see your company thrive in more ways than one.