Gender equality has a crucial impact on the day to day operations of a business. A workplace that holds gender equality as a core value attempts to achieve equal treatment and opportunities for everyone regardless of their gender. This goes for both men and women. Women are kept out of management positions, offered lower salaries on average, and are treated unfairly when they may become pregnant. Men, on the other hand, are offered inadequate flexibility in their career because men are not expected to be as involved in parenting. Gender inequality in the workplace not only has an adverse effect on employees, but also damages business.
Despite the rise in women pursuing higher education, women still do not have equal access to job opportunities and promotions. Many organizations in industries dominated by a single gender are missing out on half of the talent pool. Men are more likely to work in construction, mining, and manufacturing, while women dominate education, healthcare and retail. However, men always outnumber women in leadership positions. This unfortunate situation is sometimes called the “glass ceiling”.
The most relevant and well-known form of gender inequality in the workplace is the gender pay gap. Companies tend to have a gender pay gap, starting at the graduate level. In the EU the average gender age gap is 16%. The largest pay gap in the world is in South Korea – a staggering 37.5%. Even though women are at least as educated as men, their skill sets are undervalued because of their gender.
Employers’ expectations of men and women in the workplace will often differ. For instance, rational and emotional are seemingly the most frequently used adjectives to distinguish men and women. Pregnancy has a tendency to stall women’s careers. Career breaks, pregnancy leave and part-time employment are not the security that employers look for, leading to the stall in most women’s careers.
Men are the forgotten victims of gender inequality. Male workers are not encouraged to work flexibly, which is necessary at certain ages when they have family and children. Men are not expected to be engaged in parenting and rather just focus on their careers. Consequently, they are likely to be judged during and after parental leave. Flexibility is important; the Diversity Council of Australia stated ‘Flexibility in a role is one of the top 5 top employment drivers for men’.
Gender equality helps companies attract talent and improve productivity. Organizations that uphold a diversity policy automatically gain access to the entire labor pool. Talented employees are talented regardless of their gender and a diversity policy is better at finding the right person for the job. Furthermore, diversity helps to have a better understanding of industry knowledge, widening target customers and market share. Women and men have different perspectives, and solve problems differently.
Gender equality helps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Although women are the usual victims, harassment on men is on the rise. Managers should be proactive on this issue to avoid conflict, loss in productivity, and a damaged reputation.