5 Ways Employees Can Contribute To Improve Gender Equality At Workplace

Some ideas and steps through which employees can contribute to improve gender equality.

“Real change occurs from the bottom up; it occurs from person to person, and it almost always occurs in small groups and locales and then bubbles up and aggregates to larger vectors of change.” This quote by Paul Hawken really describes how actions of every single employee can make an impact and contribute to improving gender equality at the workplace. 

Every year, companies invest a vast amount of time and money on policies and procedures aimed at increasing gender equality at the workplace. While companies should continue doing that, the impact created will not stay or increase until the employees – the people who make up the workplace, start feeling responsible and work towards improving gender equality at their workplace. 

According to a recent report by McKinsey, the women workforce in India contributes only 18 per cent to our GDP, one of the lowest in the world. The study also reveals that only 25 per cent of women account for the total labour force in the country. Therefore today, gender disparity in India is high and we all need to ask ourselves, how we can contribute in any way to ensure gender equality at the workplace. 

We have a big opportunity and a large role to play. According to the same study, India has one of the largest opportunities in the world - to boost GDP by advancing women’s equality - $770 billion of added GDP by 2025 - this would, however, require comprehensive change. 

Here are some ideas and steps through which employees can contribute to improve gender equality: 

An intentionally inclusive environment enabled by the organization, managers and all employees

Create an environment where everyone is heard regardless of title or gender. Are all opinions and thoughts heard with respect in meetings? Does capability and not gender define promotion or compensation hike decisions? Employees, irrespective of gender must be encouraged to take charge of their career, own their development needs and sign up for opportunities. Employees should be intentionally inclusive to ensure that such an environment is a reality in practice. Diversity is a fact and inclusion is a choice, what is your choice?

Work on your unconscious bias

Unconscious bias has become a huge buzz word in the corporate world, which is good since it means that organizations have started building awareness about it. Identifying and tracking how biases affect businesses is however very hard to do since it affects perception. Does the gender of an employee define or influence their potential or role? It could be in little decisions such as providing travel opportunities or deciding who does the night shift. Be aware and mindful of your biases.  

Get involved with company-specific initiatives to show your support for equality

Many companies have internal programs dedicated to improving equality in the workplace. Every employee needs to actively take part in these programs, for example, joining an employee resource group on diversity and inclusion, educating oneself on this, or using social media to create greater gender awareness. 

Don’t be afraid of providing appreciative and constructive feedback – feedback is a gift

Some employees take the gender equality matter in a way that they hesitate providing feedback especially constructive feedback to women, for the fear of being accused as biased. Feedback is an essential part of any employee’s development People should keep in mind that everyone needs feedback to grow and improve, not giving these opportunities owing to gender is also a form of prejudice. 

Don’t forget about the other genders

Gender equality is all about giving an equal chance to everyone. For the workplace to be equal, no unfair advantage should be given to anyone. Everyone should be given equal opportunities to excel and show their true potential. No one would want to be promoted just because of their gender, they would like to earn it just like everyone else. This healthy competition creates a sense of belonging for everyone. Women want to showcase their talent, their contributions while standing side by side with their male colleagues. The actual inequality comes in when the company has specific rules based on gender. Employees should speak up against discrimination. For the workforce to work as a comprehensive unit, there should be uniform rules for people irrespective of gender. 

Each of us needs to be accountable for gender equality. It is the micro-actions that make the biggest change because they are embedded in our daily lives. They represent an opportunity for all of us to take individual accountability. Signing up to be an ally, is a great way to bring about change, and small simple steps taken by employees can make a huge difference to help usher in an era of a gender-equal workplace. This year’s International Women’s Day 2020 theme ‘Each for Equal’ shows that gender equality is everyone’s responsibility. And it is time that we take our step(s) to create a gender-equal world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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