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How the best companies address gender inequality

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John Sherman
2016-12-06

Even here in the 21st century, gender inequality is still an issue despite our best efforts so far to combat it. While the workplace has become more equal than it ever has been before, there is still work to be done before it is genuinely an even playing field for both genders. Addressing the situation is not always easy for companies, however, as many issues regarding inequality can be very nuanced, with causes going deep below the surface.

Many companies though are making concerted efforts to address gender inequality in the workplace with initiatives that are designed to encourage equality. Such innovators are creating examples that the rest of the business community can look up to as an inspiration when trying to tackle inequality in the workplace.

Recognizing Contribution Down the Line

Generally speaking, we tend to consider a company’s workforce to be the people that are sitting in the company’s offices and working in their factories. However, the chain of contribution goes much further than that. Even if a person is not directly employed by a company, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable contributors to the organization. Indeed, such people are often essential to any organization.

One such example is the contribution that female dairy workers make toward a company such as Nestle, and their contribution has not gone unrewarded. Nestle is helping these dairy workers with valuable advice and free veterinarian services, while they also help to make sure that any medicines needed for livestock

Encouraging and Funding Education

Research reveals that there are now more females going into further education than males. While this may well be helping with gender inequality issues in America and Europe, education opportunities for females are still lacking in other parts of the world.

Some companies have gone as far as providing funds for women to gain an education, particularly in impoverished parts of the world. Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee, for example, runs an initiative that provides education to girls living in Guatemalan coffee producing villages. Such initiatives provide education not only in academic subjects, but also on health, well-being, and gender inequality issues.

Have Male and Female Interviewers

Subconscious bias in interviews can lead to better-suited candidates being overlooked for no other reasons than their gender. Quite often the interviewer has every intention of approaching the recruitment process fairly and is unaware that they are biased toward a particular gender. That the interviewer is often unaware of his or her own bias means it is a particularly difficult problem to overcome…or is it?

The solution is actually a lot simpler than it might first appear to be, and some of the largest companies out there are endorsing it as a policy.

In having both men and women interviewers, any subconscious gender bias is automatically balanced, helping to provide a much fairer recruitment process. For the company, this means that the best candidate for a job is more likely to be selected for a role, helping to create a more effective workforce. It may not be a perfect solution, but it should certainly go some way to helping redress the balance.

Encouraging Progression

Some companies have developed programs that actively encourage women to take more prominent roles within their organization. This often involves mentoring programs that help to develop women’s qualifications and provide inspiration for them to take on the challenge of pushing higher up the echelons of the workforce. International law firm Allens has adopted such a strategy and has seen great success so far, with just over half of the participants now holding senior positions within the organization.

Such initiatives are not always entirely altruistic. In encouraging their brightest and most talented women to push further up the ladder, they get to tap into a talent pool that might otherwise have not been used to its full potential. Having women in senior positions within the organization also helps to act as an inspiration to others that are looking to progress in their career.

Maternity Leave

One of the greatest divides in the workplace is the subject of maternity and it is something that has long held women back in the workplace. Women are now legally protected throughout much of the world when it comes to pregnancy and maternity, but some businesses are taking it further than just abiding by the law.

Companies such Banco Brazil and Spanish financial services provider BBVA have created initiatives that emphasize equality where maternity is concerned. Their initiatives allow maternity leave beyond the legal requirements but that’s not all. The initiatives also help to create an environment where the woman is not made to feel guilty about taking maternity leave, helping to create a truly fair environment.

To ensure genuine equality, many companies also ensure that men are allowed paternity leave to spend time at home with family after the birth of a child.

These are just a few of the ways companies have been addressing gender inequality in the workforce. We still have a long ways to go, but hopefully we will see even bigger progress throughout the world as we move forward into 2017.

 

 

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