Women in the Workplace: Breaking Biases

March 8 marked International Women’s Day, and this year’s IWD theme, #BreakTheBias, highlights the need to remove stereotypes against women in the workplace. Gender diversity improves the workplace for all—a McKinsey study found that for every 10% increase in gender diversity, company earnings before taxes and interest rose by 3.5%. To move closer to gender equality, steps need to be taken.

Acknowledge Gender Gaps

To determine if gender gaps are present at an organization, leadership can calculate how many women are employed at the company along with how many hold leadership roles. Understanding the demographics is important in determining where workplace improvements can be made and gender-equity goals can be set.

The hiring and promotion of women are two ways that gender gaps can be diminished. HR should make an effort to include more women in their interview metrics, pass-through rates, and hiring metrics. Historically, gender gaps are more prominent when looking at promotion data. If this is the case, set quantifiable goals to create a diverse and equitable work environment.

Remove Gender Gaps

An organization’s parental leave policy can house stereotypes as well. Policies that do not offer time off for caretakers of all genders do not support gender equality. As the modern family does not fit one mold, offering an inclusive policy not only supports women, but also same-sex couples, adoptive parents, and more non-traditional family structures. Organizations that support all genders will see a higher employee retention rate and improved overall employee satisfaction.

Support Working Mothers

Since the start of the pandemic, the line between work and personal life became almost indistinguishable. For years, the working mother stereotype has harmed women’s career progress, and the pandemic hasn’t improved it.

Leadership should adapt their parental leave policy, but also ensure that the workplace does not subscribe to the working mother stereotypes. When a working mother has access to resources and support, maintaining a healthy balance between her work and personal life becomes more achievable. Positions and promotions should never be withheld from a person, no matter the gender, due to having a growing family.

Understand Female Employee Experiences

An open line of communication between leadership and their female employees is important. Having conversations allow biases and disparities in the workplace to be acknowledged and corrected. No one understands the gender gap better than those it affects the most. Working together to create solutions may be the quickest and most effective way to enact timely and meaningful changes.

Dismantling the biases and stereotypes that prevent women from reaching their highest potential in the workplace will require a collective effort. Identifying areas in need of improvement and providing education will pave the way for positive change.