Strategies for Creating Gender Equality at Work
As the GenderAvenger community knows, inequality in the workplace persists, but what are the primary drivers and how can employers and employees take action? We’re pleased to bring you the insights from Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.
Fairygodboss collects data on what women in the workplace are experiencing. The women in our community offer balanced feedback, with most women ranking their job satisfaction at 4 on a 1-to-5 scale. But while these women are experiencing workplace satisfaction, nearly 66 percent believe the workplace has largely stayed the same or gotten worse for women.
By analyzing the data from our anonymous employee reviews, proprietary research, and community discussions, we know what’s driving workplace satisfaction and, perhaps more importantly, dissatisfaction.
As an example, 36 percent of women say unequal promotion practices is the number one source of inequality in the workplace. Knowing this, it’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that promoting more women into leadership is a key factor in what would make a woman stay in her current role or company.
In our annual report, Creating Gender Equality at Work: A Roadmap for 2019, we tackle these issues of inequality and offer practical solutions to help employers and employees alike translate conversations about gender equality into action.
Fairygodboss has identified four key strategies to help advance gender equality at work:
Invest in employee resource groups (ERGs)
Advocate for women
Evaluate hiring and promotions practices
Practice what you preach
We believe that if employers and employees work together, it will result in better and more innovative solutions that address the needs of a workforce.
Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs are nearly ubiquitous. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs (also sometimes known as “business resource groups” or “affinity groups”). We know from the women in our community that ERGs are effective change agents, and we’ve seen countless examples in the media of employees using their collective power to create change. In addition to creating change, ERGs also offer professional development and employee engagement. The best employers are leveraging these networks to create more inclusive work environments, including increased gender parity.
Advocate for Women
A “Fairygodboss” is defined as someone who elevates women at work. We’ve discovered through our research that women want to see other women in leadership. It is imperative to champion other women through mentorship and sponsorship. Studies have shown that 68 percent of women with a sponsor reported being satisfied with their career advancement and are 27 percent more likely to ask for a raise than those without a sponsor.
Evaluate Hiring and Promotions Practices
As mentioned, unequal promotion practices is the number one source of perceived inequity in the workplace among women. Additional research shows that men are more likely to promote men, and women are more likely to promote women. It’s important that employers consider implementing implicit bias training, sourcing a diverse slate of candidates, creating clear promotion policies, and removing gendered information during resume reviews to create a more fair hiring and promotion procedures. As these systems are re-evaluated and implemented, we believe more women will ascend into leadership, which will ultimately lead to more gender equal (and diverse!) workplaces.
Practice What You Preach
While we believe all of these strategies are critical in advancing gender equality, we know putting your policies into action is one of the most important factors in creating an inclusive work culture. Employers must not only talk about their policies, but must also showcase them using storytelling and by engaging their current workforce. By showing how a company lives its diversity and inclusion practices, future applicants are able to visualize themselves working there, and that vision will ultimately lead to a higher retention and engagement rate among women workers.
While we recognize that we have a lot of work to do before we reach gender parity, we believe these four strategies can help close the gap a little sooner, and by using our voices and resources like Fairygodboss and GenderAvenger, we can all do our part to achieve gender equality.
Mary Pharris is director of business development and partnerships at Fairygodboss, where she works to improve the workplace for women every day. Prior to joining Fairygodboss, she spent nearly 10 years working in politics and nonprofits as a fundraiser and managed her own firm for two years. When she is not busy thinking and talking about how to make modern workplaces better for women, she enjoys spending time with her family, exploring New York City and volunteering. She earned her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, and holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of North Texas. Stay in touch by connecting with her on Fairygodboss!