Breaking the Glass Ceiling: 5 Strategies to Improve Gender Equity in Your Workplace
It's 2023, yet the glass ceiling still exists for many women in the workplace. Despite progress and awareness around gender equity, women continue to face barriers. At Momentum, we are all about taking action, so today, we're sharing strategies that can be implemented to promote gender equity in your workplace. In this blog post, we'll discuss five effective strategies to help shatter that glass ceiling in your workplace!
Introduction to Gender Equity in the Workplace
Gender equity in the workplace is a topic that leaders need to keep on their radar. Truly digging into gender equity issues within your workplace requires breaking down barriers that have prevented women from achieving their full potential and a sustainable career path.
First, we need to understand what the common barriers are to gender equity in the workplace.
- Gender stereotypes and biases: Women are often assumed to be less capable of leadership than their male counterparts or are only seen as suitable for certain types of jobs. This can limit women's career opportunities and earnings potential. That can look like:
A hiring committee favoring male candidates over female prospects who have very similar (if not the exact same) experience to their male counterparts
- The motherhood penalty: Women who have children are often penalized in the workplace through things like being passed over for promotions or being given less favorable assignments. That can look like:
A hiring team overlooking a woman for a high-profile role or project because they think it would be too much responsibility after recently having a baby
- Sexual harassment and discrimination: Unfortunately, sexual harassment and discrimination are still common in many workplaces. This can create a hostile environment for women, and make it difficult for them to advance in their careers. This can look like:
Sexually charged comments or jokes
Incidents of sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention
Breaking down these barriers requires a multi-pronged approach. Here are 5 strategies that your workplace can utilize to break the glass ceiling and promote gender equity.
1. Promoting Awareness of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
Gender discrimination in the workplace is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Although progress has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving equity for women in the workplace.
There are many ways to promote awareness of gender discrimination in the workplace. One way is to talk about it openly and honestly with colleagues, friends, and family members. This can help to bring attention to the issue and start important conversations about how to address it. Additionally, there are a number of online resources and publications that provide information about gender discrimination in the workplace and how to combat it. Sharing these resources can help educate others about the issue and provide them with practical tools for making change. Finally, speaking up when you witness or experience gender discrimination in the workplace is critical. By taking a stand, you can help create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
To engage in a deeper dive on Gender Equality issues and strategies, check out Austrialia's Gender strategy toolkit: A direction for achieving gender equality in your organisation.
2. Implementing Flexible Working Arrangements
Organizations that want to promote gender equity can start by implementing flexible working arrangements. This could involve offering employees the ability to adjust their hours, work from home, or take advantage of other types of scheduling flexibility.
Flexible working arrangements can help to level the playing field for women, who are often the primary caregivers for children and other family members. They can also help to accommodate employees with other responsibilities outside of work.
When implemented correctly, flexible working arrangements can benefit both employers and employees. Employers may see increased productivity and engagement from their employees, while employees may appreciate the ability to better balance their work and personal lives.
3. Establishing Comprehensive AND sustainable Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Programs
When it comes to gender equity in the workplace, one of the most important things that companies can do is establish comprehensive and sustainable diversity and inclusion programs. By creating a workplace environment where everyone feels valued and respected, companies can help break down the barriers that have traditionally prevented women from advancing in their careers.
Some specific ways that companies can promote gender equity through their diversity and inclusion programs include:
- Investing in workshops or training on unconscious bias and its impact on the workplace
- Conducting workplace audits and surveys on the employee lifecycle
- Promoting flexible work arrangements to accommodate different life stages and responsibilities
- Creating employee resource groups focused on gender equity
4. Creating a Mentorship Program
A mentorship program can be a great way to promote gender equity in the workplace. By pairing up employees of different genders, you can help break down barriers and create a more supportive and inclusive environment.
***Please note: Before you create a mentorship program in your workplace, utilize these below tips to reduce the likelihood of harm.
- Define the goals of the program. What do you hope to achieve by pairing up employees of different genders? Make sure everyone involved is on the same page from the start.
- Choose the right participants. Not everyone will be suited for a mentorship program, so carefully select mentors who will not cause more harm due to not having done the self-work to understand the perspectives of their mentees. - Create a supportive environment. Mentorship is reciprocal; The focus of the program should be on support, not competition. Encourage participants to give and receive feedback in a respectful and constructive manner.
- Be flexible with the format. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mentorship, so be open to trying out different formats until you find what works best for your organization.
- Evaluate regularly. Check in with participants throughout the duration of the program to see how it’s going and make adjustments as needed. At the end of the program, conduct a formal evaluation to assess its overall effectiveness.
5. Reforming Recruiting Practices and Policies
A recent study by Mckinsey and Company, found that women are underrepresented in leadership positions at work. In order to promote gender equity in the workplace, organizations need to reform their recruiting practices and policies.
Some ways to do this include:
-Making job descriptions and requirements gender-neutral
-Encouraging a diverse pool of applicants
-Using blind screening practices during the hiring process
-Providing training on unconscious bias for managers and HR staff
Organizations that commit to reforming their recruiting practices and policies will be better positioned to promote gender equity in the workplace. This, in turn, can help to break the glass ceiling and create opportunities for all employees.
Breaking the glass ceiling on gender equity can be done with the right strategy and commitment. We hope this article has provided you with the tools needed to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. Momentum Professional Strategy Partners specializes in helping organizations and businesses embed equity, inclusion and accessibility into the fabric of their operations by providing expert guidance and support. Whether it is through hiring policies or workplace audits, there are many paths toward achieving greater success in your workplace. With these five strategies for gender equity in the workplace as your guide, we believe everyone has a better chance at success.
Written by: Christina Blocker (she/her)
Christina Blocker is the CEO and founder of Momentum Professional Strategy Partners - a full-service DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility) consulting firm. Christina spent a substantial portion of her career specializing in public relations, diversity & inclusion strategy, and community engagement for high-growth organizations and has been recognized by influential leaders due to her work as a former political consultant.
Throughout the years, she has worked with mission-driven clients such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Washington Environmental Council, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington State Department of Health. Because of her extensive experience, Christina pours her expertise into Momentum by working with clients to drive measurable change through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.