An old Tibetian proverb says: “A hundred male and a hundred female qualities make a perfect human being.” We have talked about gender differences in the workplace before: from the perspectives of salaries as well as the roles that women are expected to fulfill. Here, we take a look at some statistics around gender ratios in the workplace and share potential solutions to create more balanced workplaces.
Gender ratios are currently heavily skewed towards male employees, even in some of the most progressive organizations. A report released by Market Inspector in November 2017 examined this imbalance in leadership roles and in boardroom involvement. They reported that globally, the amount of females in senior positions has risen by just 3% in five years to stand at 24% in 2016. However, 33% of all companies globally still do not have any women in senior management roles. In addition, only 3.9% of CEOs analyzed by the Credit Suisse report are women.
Part of the reason for this trend is the gender stereotype attached to these jobs, historically considered as “male”. So while most young men take up mathematics and science in college, women usually gravitate toward typically “female” streams such as humanities and the arts. So it comes as no surprise that roles often occupied by women include journalists, teachers, authors, librarians, and therapists.
Examples of initiatives from various companies to improve gender ratios in the workplace:
- Infosys follows a multi-pronged approach to promote diversity and inclusivity. Its initiative, Infosys Women’s Inclusivity Network (IWIN), works toward creating a gender-sensitive and inclusive work environment for women employees and trains them for managerial and leadership roles, thereby maintaining gender ratios at all levels in the organization.
- Ernst & Young’s Career Watch program identifies manager-level women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and American Indians who have been at the firm for at least five years and have potential to make partner. These ‘potential partners’ are assigned to top clients, given key sales opportunities, and carefully monitored to ensure they stay on-track.
- Making up for the loss of a female employee with another woman hire is another new mantra companies are using to improve their gender diversity ratios. Fluor Corporation follows the practice of hiring women to fill vacant positions when women employees leave the company or take a break.
What are some of the steps organizations can take to ensure gender equality? We did some research on this.
Strategic tips to improve gender ratios in the workplace
1. Foster a “culture of inclusion” and recognize gender inclusivity as a key factor in organizational agility, innovation, and success.
2. Remain open to accepting the different capabilities that women bring to the workplace as well as leadership roles.
3. Introduce policies and processes that spur women participation, especially at the higher levels of decision-making.
4. Make the security and dignity of female employees a priority.
5. Showcase “role models” to encourage younger women to aspire to working in leadership positions.
6. Develop a genuine understanding of the challenges faced by women & identify the behaviors that encourage women to succeed.
7. Women need to help executives understand the behaviors that encourage them to succeed.
8. Companies need to continue to strengthen their gender parity programs.
9. Senior management should make sure that all voices are heard in meetings.
10. HR should ask women for specific feedback on what the organization can do to advance their career goals.
Hopefully, with measures such as these, organizations improve gender ratios and we will create truly inclusive work environments.