Progressive employers understand why gender equality in the workplace is key
In many of today's economies, women are more educated and employed than ever.
In part, we can thank changing social mindsets along with the development of more progressive workplace cultures where a strong focus on diversity and inclusion is evident.
Today, 87% of companies are highly committed to gender equality - a huge increase from 56% in 2012. A commitment to equality often comes from senior leaders, management and male employees.
Drawing inspiration from female role models
Women in business in particular can draw inspiration from many female role models in senior positions.
Think Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube; Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM; Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox.
All of these women have achieved impressive career success, often in industries with low female representation.
A greater choice of exciting career paths
Thanks to technology, communication and freedom of movement, women also have more career choice.
According to Forbes, some of the best-paying jobs for women include Lawyer, Engineer, Software Developer, Computer Programmer, Scientist, HR Manager, and Marketing and Sales Manager.
All very exciting career paths, all available to women who want to take on these challenges.
Taking control of career success
Women themselves are more proactively forging their own career paths and taking control over their professional successes.
Women are more likely to proactively ask for new career challenges and pay rises.
There’s also a rise in women-owned businesses and working mothers.
Most importantly – women report to be happier at work than men!
A more diverse and inclusive workplace culture
Workplace culture is also becoming more diverse and inclusive. Thanks to company-wide initiatives and strategies, employees are benefiting from equal opportunities to grow and advance both personally and professionally.
A diverse workplace is self-reinforcing. If women and minority groups feel welcomed in a workplace, that workplace will attract further candidates who can make their own unique and value-adding contributions to the company.
More employers realise that inflexible working environments are driving away talented women from their companies who need to balance careers with family care. Employers are therefore coming up with solutions that include job sharing, part-time jobs, remote working, affordable childcare, paid family leave, and flexible start and end times.
Companies are also striving to close the gender pay gap by empowering women to speak out against unequal pay, making women more aware of higher-paid roles, pushing against the damaging stereotype of gendered jobs – and, of course, by simply paying women fairly.
Companies are also realizing the value of having more women in leadership. There's been an increase in female representation at executive level, which means women now have greater influence in shaping the business and culture of their company – hopefully for the better!
Employees are setting up and leading groups within companies that help support women and create a connected community of like-minded people that can help one another succeed.
Training and networking opportunities also help women in the workplace, as do mentoring programmes. Mentors in particular can act as role models that inspire, offer skills and experience, and open up professional networks.
But there’s still progress to be made
Despite leaps in progress, women are still under-represented in the workplace, particularly women of color, women with disabilities and LGBT women.
Many companies still need to understand that women’s experiences are diverse and reach beyond gender, which requires personalised approaches to issues preventing career advancement.
Strategies like unconscious bias training, target setting or metrics sharing are needed to overcome this unequal representation. But beyond tangible solutions, global mindsets also need to change for women to succeed in the workplace.
Increasing the number of women in the workplace is a win-win scenario
Not only do diversity and inclusion benefit women, but equality also benefits the companies themselves.
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that gender diversity leads to more productive companies.
Diversity adds value to the company and increases innovation, ideas and creativity. Diverse teams can also connect better with clients and customers.
More satisfied employees are also more productive employees who are more likely to stay at the company for longer and recommend it to others as a great place to work, creating a virtuous cycle.