Diversity of Thought Blog

6 reasons your workplace should embrace gender equality

Whether your business is turning a good profit or struggling to meet the tiniest of targets, adopting a policy of gender equality across your organisation will bring rewards you may not have considered! To get you going, here we take a quick look at an inexhaustive list of just six.

1.   To employ the top talent

Did you know that in 2013, 58% of graduates across OECD countries were women? Amazing, right?! Around 64% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in education, humanities and social sciences went to women compared to only 31% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in sciences and engineering.[1] Note that in Australia at least, female science and engineering graduates in entry level positions earn more than their male counterparts[2], probably a tactic to encourage more women to study in those fields!

It stands to reason that if the majority of graduates are female, the top talented candidates for entry-level positions are also female. HR departments take note.

     2.   Morale and performance

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency states that,

“Research and organisational experience indicate diverse teams consistently outperform homogeneous teams and produce stronger (business) outcomes – provided an inclusive culture operates, where all ideas or contributions are valued and considered.[3]”

Of course a gender equality policy ensures that men and women are treated with respect. Leaders who instil this kind of policy encourage people to be themselves and make contributions without fear of being shut down or easily dismissed, improving collaboration and reducing the opportunity for conflict. Happier employees are more likely to become invested in your business, and thus they are more likely to be motivated to perform for you.

     3.   Men benefit too

Our own research found that,

Even though 76 percent of men have needed greater work-life balance at some stage in their career, only 27 percent of men have asked for it.  The top reasons for this include the belief that such a request would have negative effects on their career and that employers look negatively on employees who take advantage of work-life balance initiatives.

Even when men perceived their organisation supported employees having a work-life balance, they were not more likely request greater work-life balance for themselves.

Importantly, The 100% Project also found that men and women implicitly believe that work-life balance is for women, not for men. This inherent bias reinforces men’s reluctance to request flexible work conditions.

But, flexible work arrangements are almost a condition of employment for people today. A Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) study found that:

“…Millennials want more flexibility… But so do non-Millennials, in equal numbers. In fact, a significant number of employees from all generations feel so strongly about wanting a flexible work schedule that they would be willing to give up pay and delay promotions in order to get it.[4]

In Australia, where 90% of men and women believe men and women should be equally involved in parenting[5], employers need to recognize the needs of their workforce. It is clear that flexible working conditions are of great importance to the happiness of male and female workers from all generations. It is up to business leaders to change the culture of gender bias surrounding flexible working conditions so that men and women feel comfortable requesting it.

Once men are comfortable enough to request flexible conditions, more full time roles will become available to women, allowing them a greater opportunity to climb the managerial ladder.

    4.    Attract new customers, keep existing ones

A diverse workplace will attract more diverse clientele. In your gender diverse workplace, your employees will have a greater understanding of a greater number of potential customers, growing your business and planning, advising and serving your clientele more effectively and personally.

    5.    Innovation

To continue growing your business you need to be at the forefront of innovation. Each individual in your workforce has their own backstory. A gender diverse workforce has a more diverse range of life experiences and thus a larger pool of unique problem solving skills. Harness a diverse workforce and marvel at the ideas and solutions your employees present to you and your clients. Your business might present a client an option they’ve never even entertained.

    6.    Perception

A large part of the success of a business can be attributed to how it is perceived in the community. Is your business moving with the times or stuck in past? How are you contributing beyond profit margins? A diverse workplace is more likely to be seen as progressive and forward thinking, more likely to have a future. People of diverse backgrounds may be more likely to approach your business if they believe they will be treated fairly by your employees.

Embrace gender equality in your workplace and reap the benefits. The 100% Project has the research and tools to help. Get in touch!

[1] http://www.oecd.org/gender/data/gender-gap-in-education.htm
[2] https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/GradStats_factsheet_2016.pdf
[3] https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Strategy_Toolkit.pdf
[4] http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hr-management-services/publications/assets/pwc-nextgen.pdf
[5] https://the100percentproject.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/MenAtWork-Flyer-Short2013.pdf