Despite the fact that the number of people supporting gender equality at the workplace is increasing, the ground experiences differ significantly. Although a lot of efforts are put nowadays encouraging women to participate, many women still sense bias in the processes. With the Covid 19 pandemic, this bias increased the suffering of working women manifolds as compared to that of men. The globalization of the workforce in the post-Covid pandemic has forced companies to promote DEI incorporation in their organizational practices. The glass ceiling is prohibiting women (especially women of color) to move up the hierarchy in their companies. Whereas, their male counterparts enjoy relatively greater and more frequent opportunities in terms of promotions, benefits, and pay-raise. Before we dive into the problems and solutions of gender discrimination, let’s briefly understand the phenomenon of the glass ceiling.
What exactly is the glass ceiling for women?
The glass ceiling concept is a metaphor used to describe the effect of an invisible barrier that prohibits women to grow up the ladder in their hierarchical structure. An example of this event would be an organization advocating equal opportunities employment but contains no women in leadership roles. Hence, women in such an organization can never hit the climax of their careers since the organization does not allow them to grow beyond a certain level. This certain level in an organization is, in fact, the invisible glass ceiling and a no-go for women in the very organization.
Glass ceilings affect women in more ways than merely their lack of opportunities for promotion. It extends far beyond this limit. For instance, an organization promotes DEI incorporation in their workplace culture and practices and has women in higher hierarchical structures. The board does not take into account the input and/or opinions of these women during its meetings. Similarly, when women are promoted to managerial positions but do not receive the same pay scales as their male counterparts, they face a glass ceiling.
The DEI incorporation improves the workplace culture for women at work by balancing the male-to-female ratio across departments. However, a loud and clear message that goes beyond verbally supporting the DEI incorporation is essential to creating a workforce that works well for women in their corporate aspirations.
Top 4 issues women face at work
Now, let’s discuss the corporate setbacks women face owing to the absence of DEI incorporation in their workplaces. Although the length of issues is not limited to these problems alone. Therefore, this is a bird’s eye view to spotlight the major issues at hand.
Access to growth opportunities
According to the research conducted by Thomson Reuters Foundation, access to growth opportunities is among the top 5 issues highlighted by women at work. Women at work find it relatively harder to qualify for the same promotions that men easily qualify for. This unfair evaluation creates a negative difference in career opportunities and growth spectrum for working women. DEI incorporation in an organization makes sure that women get as many chances and opportunities for growth as their counterpart men. It also ensures that evaluation criteria remain the same irrespective of the gender of the employee. An effective technique in pursuit of DEI incorporation is to add partial anonymity within your ATS. In an applicant tracking system that hides employee personal information, the only metric used to evaluate candidates is their performance.
Gender-based workplace harassment
When it comes to workplace offenses registered by women, harassment concerns are among the leading factors. While many women advocate the opposite too, a significant proportion of women still speak of it in private settings such as anonymous polls, etc. Gender-based Harassment issues are not just about sexually offensive workplaces. In fact, it goes way beyond that. Workplace harassment is recorded in the form of gender-based derogatory remarks, puns, leering and staring, passing statements that are degrading to a specific gender, etc.
The effects of such harassment lead women to feel humiliated and a sense of an unprotected workplace. Consequently, women at work feel underproductive, preoccupied, and under the constant stress of lacking confidence. But the question is, how does DEI incorporation reduce gender-based workplace harassment? With the increase in diversity among the workforce, the understanding of various cultures also increases. It means that respect for co-employees in terms of their demographics, religious orientations, and personal boundaries increases. Similarly, acknowledgement and respect for women of color also increase. Consequently, the workplace culture improves and harassment incidents reduce.
Work-life balance issues
Although many organizations now practice dedicated efforts to support women in maintaining their work-life balance, the concern still exists among the top issues women face at work. While gender equality is demanded in corporate cultures, the fact that women have to maintain a family balance still pertains. And it becomes even more significant when women have to carry their careers and children in parallel. Similarly, maternity leaves are a necessity for working women. Lack of acknowledgement of such fundamental needs creates discrimination in the workplace culture. As a result, the productivity and morale of their working women have increased manifolds.
Discrepancy in pay structures
The dilemma of working women is that they have to accept a compromise between position and pay scales. Many working women have reported that even though they are offered attractive titles and role-based promotions, the respective increment in pay structures is not taken into account. This unfair and unequal division of labor discourages the morale of women at work. And it does not simply end here. This kind of derogatory workplace culture cannot last long and eventually loses a big chunk of talent asset.
The DEI incorporation helps companies practice inclusivity within their workplace cultures. Once the employees are evaluated on the basis of their performance and experience, the discrepancy in pay structures and acknowledgement automatically ceases to exist. Such a workplace culture nurtures and empowers women to participate in every forum within the company confidently. Further sections of this blog will focus on ideas and strategies to address the aforementioned concerns of women at work.
Role of DEI incorporation in promoting gender equality at workplace
Diversity, equality, and inclusiveness is the right of every working class. And its importance becomes even more significant when it is about an already suffering class of employees. For instance, women of color still face massive discrimination, and women in general face recurring harassment at their workplaces. DEI incorporation advocates the rights of employees in general and specifically for the deprived as well as those belonging to minorities. Let’s see how to make a workplace culture ambient for women at work.
Partially censored recruitment model
A partially censored recruitment model is exactly what it sounds like. Human resources and talent acquisition specialists are censored from knowing personal information about employees. As a result, any hiring decision is free of individual, gender-based, or demographic bias. Such a recruitment model evaluates candidates based solely on their performance and experience. The employee set of such an organization becomes an amalgam of diverse talent belonging to all genders and ethnicities. It is therefore possible to achieve diversity according to the DEI principle at work, and hence to ensure that workplace culture welcomes all ethnicities and genders at the same level.
Standardized compensation structures
Standardized compensation structures are a key solution for women who face unequal pay scales at work. Documentation and standardization of compensation on performance-based metrics would eliminate the concern of unfair compensation. Firstly, the women would feel encouraged to perform better owing to the equal recognition of their efforts. Secondly, they will invest greater efforts within the workplace to qualify for higher ranks and positions in the company. Hence, DEI incorporation is now equal and workplace culture now acknowledges employee efforts without discrimination.
Documented distribution of role-based authorities
According to the report of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, working women observe a lack of authority even from the position of power. Consequently, they feel hostility and lack of acknowledgement within their own workplace cultures. The majority of the time, this occurs when employees in positions of power observe undocumented authority. Making women feel more inclusive in the organization by documenting role-based authority. A centralized and documented distribution of role-based authority is therefore crucial to ensuring a gender-inclusive workplace environment. Working women become more appreciative of the work environment when documentation ensures DEI inclusion.
It is important, however, to take into account some other factors separately. For instance, discouraging harassment and spreading awareness among employees to report any harassment is as crucial as DEI incorporation. Similarly, the incorporation of flexible working time and inclusion of paid maternity and menstruation leaves should be among the top accommodations. Companies should encourage their female employees to compete for leadership roles, providing them with equal opportunities to rise and shine. Hence, the DEI incorporation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recognizing the organizational asset in the form of talented working women.