3 Tips for Building a Gender-Equal Workplace
Over the last few years, the differing experiences of men and women in the workplace have been subject to both media attention and national legislation. As the workplace evolves, employers continue to face opportunities to ensure that they’re building a happy and healthy workplace for their employees. While it may seem obvious to say “consider gender in your workplace!”, sometimes it’s the most basic needs of employees that are overlooked.
To help you on your journey, here are three tips on monitoring the workplace and building a better employee experience, regardless of gender:
Write Job Ads that Speak to Everyone
There is a wealth of information online about how to market open positions. Pay attention to how certain job titles and role descriptions may attract specific genders. For example, research suggests that making job titles gender-neutral (e.g., changing policeman to police officer) can be somewhat effective in reducing disparities in your applicant pool.
Job descriptions frequently include gender-skewed wording. Words like competitive, strong, and assertive can implicitly make a job posting appear more attractive to a male than a female. The reverse can be said for words like nurture, thoughtful, and understanding. When writing job ads, be aware of these words and ensure that the language you use is truly representative of the characteristics required for the job.
Provide Equal Benefits
Another consideration is whether men and women are offered similar flexibility and resources to maintain a personal, professional balance. This is critical, as discovered in a recent study conducted by myself and a cohort of researchers across four universities. We found strong empirical evidence that men and women report equal levels of work-family conflict (and family-work conflict). These findings contradict conventional wisdom, which suggests a disparity in men and women’s work-life balance.
This data highlights how critical it is for workplaces to ensure they’re offering equal levels of flexibility to both men and women. As many state and local jurisdictions do not extend paid leave benefits to both mothers and fathers, employers need to make independent decisions about parental leave and the distribution of that leave by gender. Ensure that you’re considering the needs and experiences of both men and women during these decisions.
Audit Your Data to Ensure Equal Opportunity
Finally, employers should be monitoring data such as hiring selection rates, compensation, and promotions to ensure that their workplace is fair, just, and compliant. Organizations like the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) provide resources and toolkits to assist employers in ensuring that none of their practices adversely impact protected characteristics like gender. Leveraging these resources while consulting with internal legal counsel can ensure your company is on the right track to gender equality.
Taking steps to be mindful of the experience of both male and female employees contributes to a better and more human workplace. Don’t forget, building a great place to work is a journey, and you should regularly check-in on each of these areas to ensure employees feel like they’re working in a supportive and inclusive environment.
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