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Did you know that there are more CEOs in the US organizations named John, than there are women? For every 100 men promoted and hired as managers, only 72 women are promoted and hired. 1 in 4 women think their gender has played a role in missing out on a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead.
In India, the situation is even worse. Gender disparities in the country are rooted in socio-economic realities that cause survival, safety, education and economic inequalities between genders. Over the past decade, the number of women across levels, especially leadership levels has grown, but we continue to be under-represented.
But, before we get into the ways of how companies and employees alike can bring about change and bridge the large gaps , let’s first address the question – is gender diversity important for an organization? McKinsey has been conducting continued research on the subject, and the results of their research have repeatedly shown that diversity, inclusion, and performance go hand in hand.
Over the past five years, the probability of diverse companies out-earning their industry peers has increased and so have the penalties for companies lacking diversity.
These studies establish why it makes business sense, and not just ‘human’ sense, for companies to pay adequate attention to a healthy balance in the genders they employ.
Here are 8 ways in which companies can actually bring about the desired change:
1. Include Your Managers
Include your managers in the discussion. Get their buy-in on why gender diversity is relevant and critical for the organisation.
Inclusion, a fair voice, and opportunities for all should not be seen as a challenge but as an ‘everyday human way of existence’ by the majority.
2. Work On The Biases
Identify, accept, and work on the biases.
While we may be aware of some biases at an individual level, there could still be unconscious biases.
It is critical for organisations to set up systems in place to check the biases that could come up in decision making in order to correct them right at the root.
3. Redressal System
Devise robust redressal systems.
According to Harvard Business Review, approximately half of all discrimination and harassment complaints lead to some type of retaliation.
The systems in place must be open to accepting that they can be at fault, and at the same time must create a safe environment for all to express their situations honestly, in a way that doesn’t lead to an office war but only eventual growth.
4. Work With Data
Look at gender data over a period of time for your own organisation, and frequently compare it to that of your peers to get an understanding of the progress that you have made, and the work that still needs to be done.
5. Fix The Broken Rung
While we’ve all heard of the glass ceilings faced by women, it is typically understood as something that prevents women from reaching the top levels at organisations.
A study conducted by Lean In suggests that the biggest obstacle that women face is the first step up to manager, or the “broken rung.”
This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry level and fewer women becoming managers. As a result, there are significantly fewer women to advance to higher levels. To get to gender parity across the entire pipeline, companies must fix this broken rung.
6. Mentor Young Women
Mentoring young women should become an essential part of training and induction programs at organisations.
Such effort would not only allow young minds to find a safe space to grow but also inspiration and motivation to become the best versions of themselves.
Senior women at the workplace, who understand the challenges of being the under-represented gender at work, can provide extremely valuable learnings.
Build flexibility into the job. Provide suitable flexible working options and arrangements for maternity and child care.
Encourage men in your organisation to take advantage of family friendly policies to provide a balanced work environment at work and home.
8. Learn From Success Stories
Understanding your peers’ success is an essential part of growth.
Understand how companies that have been successful in taking advantage of the diversity story have made it possible for themselves and implement their actions.
We must collectively take inspiration from Maya Angelou’s words: “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”
1 David Lipton, Boosting Growth Through Diversity in Financial Leadership, IMF
2 Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Are Women Better At Managing The Covid19 Pandemic?, Forbes
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