It’s over 50 years since the Equal Pay Act and almost 40 years since employers have been able to discriminate on the basis of gender, but most professionals (75%) still believe sex discrimination exists. Studies show that a workplace that values gender diversity and is free of discrimination is more productive and profitable. Employees are happier, are less likely to leave and can be more creative. So how can you ensure your workforce is gender diverse?
Gender diversity as a recruitment tool
Our research of over 900 professionals found that 71% would actively apply to work for a company that supports gender diversity. So it’s a great way of attracting talent. By implementing a few key measures, you can ensure you’re attracting the widest range of skilled professionals.
A gender diversity program
Having a diverse workplace could also help foster a discrimination free environment and reduce inappropriate behaviour. How you set up this program will depend on your workplace and the gender imbalance. Typically, a gender diversity program will include:
- Identifying why there is a gender imbalance – both from a cultural and practical point of view.
- Implementing measures to reduce these barriers, which may involve introducing flexible working, mentoring programmes and changes to recruitment (such as the wording of advertisements) and/or the selection of senior executives
Both male and female professionals we spoke to think it is more difficult for women to be successful in the workplace - 64% and 72% respectively – giving an average figure of 68%.
Flexible working is one way to help more women secure senior roles, but our research also showed that a third of professionals believed increased mentoring and training would help, while 14% were in favour of company targets on gender balance and 10% wanted on-site childcare.
Your company may not be in a position to incorporate all these measures into your workplace, but adjustments around flexible working, for example, may be relatively inexpensive and easy to do.
Publicise the program
A reputation for respect and diversity enhances an employer’s business. However awareness of gender diversity programs was low among the professionals we spoke to. Just over half (53%), were unsure if their employer had a gender diversity program in place, and only 14% said that they knew for certain that their employer had one. If you have such a program, use it as an attraction strategy and marketing tool by communicating it to existing staff and job seekers.
Standardise pay for male and female professionals
In our survey, only 53% of professionals believe that men and women receive similar levels of pay, while 48% believe women are paid less (although there was a sharp gender divide with only 22% of men believing this compared to 68% of women). Use industry salary benchmarking and salary surveys to standardise pay rates for male and female professionals in your organisation.
Work on closing the gender gap
The reality is 75% of those surveyed believe gender discrimination still exists in the workplace. Work on closing the gap by considering:
- How the focus on diversity increases access to talent
- The impact of diversity on innovation
- The links between diversity to productivity and profitability
- Increasing training and mentoring programs
Find out more about salary levels across a range of professions in Robert Walters’ Salary Survey.