International Women’s Day may be celebrated one day in March, but its message is important all year round. This year’s theme, ‘Embrace Equity’, aims to encourage everyone to take active steps towards achieving gender equity, not just gender equality. To achieve true gender equity in the workforce, both employers and employees play a key role, and only working together will bring about change.
Here we detail some ways both employers and employees can do their part.
Implement Policies and practices that promote gender equity
Equal pay for equal work is a simple notion, but in reality, we’re not there yet. Last month’s average weekly earnings data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), shows that women earn, on average, 87 cents for every $1 earned by a man. This does represent significant improvement (it’s the lowest ever pay gap on record), but there’s obviously more work to do. Implementing an equal pay for equal work policy is a major step towards gender equality, but to achieve gender equity, it’s just the first step. Another good one is…
Flexible work/parental leave policies (for both genders!)
In Australia, organisations are moving towards gender-neutral parental leave policies, offering equitable parental leave for all parents. Research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found that working long hours (45 hours or more) is the strongest predictor of not using all paid leave entitlements and men dominate this group, fulfilling traditional and increasingly outdated gender expectations.
Organisations providing equitable paid-leave policies, and allowing for flexible work arrangements, improved family work-life balance of employees and led to better recruitment, retention and opportunity for career advancement.
Advancing everyone’s careers
On that last point, it’s up to employers to ensure female employees are given equitable opportunities to conquer their industries of choice. According to the WGEA, women make up 38.6% of all full-time employees and 68.3% of all part-time employees. Part-time employees aren’t always given the same opportunities full-time employees are, and often take home lower salaries. Frequently, it’s women who are saddled with housework and childcare duties, on top of employment. Equity results when employers offer well paid, flexible and gainful employment, for anyone providing home care.
Leadership development programs, networking opportunities and training programs are all additional tools that can help staff achieve their career goals. Ask yourself: does your company provide equitable opportunities for all its employees irrespective of gender?
While employees don’t have quite as much power as employers when it comes to gender equity, they don’t need it. Support is the name of the game for employees, and there’s plenty of ways to show yours!
Mentoring your female colleagues can include sharing your knowledge and expertise, providing feedback and guidance, or introducing women to your contacts and networks. It might not seem like much but can go a long way.
Networking activities, such as after-work drinks, are often missed opportunities for working mothers with young children, and working with mentors and sponsors allows for time-pressed employees the chance to develop their careers in a way that works for them.
Be an advocate.
Think, ‘power of the people’. Gender equity is easier to achieve in a workplace where more employees are pushing for it. Again, being an advocate doesn’t require much effort at all, and you can demonstrate your advocacy in a variety of ways.
Speaking up when you see bias and discrimination, actively participating in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and supporting colleagues who may be struggling to balance work and family responsibilities are all steps employees can take to advocate for gender equity.
By working together, we can create a more equitable workplace where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources regardless of gender.
If you would like more information on anything we’ve covered above, contact us to find out more!