Embracing Equity in the Workplace
You can’t argue that we haven’t made headway when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. Businesses have had to declare their gender pay gaps and answer questions about the lack of female representation on their Senior Leadership Teams for example. The modern workplace has focused efforts on creating an environment where everyone can expect to be treated the same.
That’s great, isn’t it? That is if all women start from the same place. But unfortunately, this isn’t the reality. I’ve seen the evidence of this throughout my career, but you don’t have to work in HR to see the disproportionate impact a rigid ‘one size fits all’ approach can have on women in the workplace.
There’s been a lot of recent coverage on the menopause, careers after having babies and the vast amount of neurodivergent women who are receiving a diagnosis later in life and the effects of these things on how women are treated in the workplace. The data makes for a depressing read:
- A menopause and workplace report conducted in 2022 found that 10% (of the 4000 women polled) aged 45-55 had left their job due to menopause symptoms.
- The same report showed that 8% of women had not applied for a promotion because of symptoms of the menopause.
- The recent Careers After Babies report found that 85% of women leave full time work within three years of having babies, due to a lack of flexibility at work.
- The report also highlighted that the number of female managers drops by 32% after having babies and the number of admin roles increases by 44%.
This is barely scratching the surface. Women experience bias in relation to their gender and then further bias due to a number of other factors including but not limited to race, disability and sexual orientation. This in turn creates further barriers that blanket workplace policies and processes do not adequately address.
This is why embracing equity is so important. The opportunity to meet women where they are in life. This essentially means NOT treating everyone the same, and that’s ok. Striving for equity encourages us to look at the individual circumstances of women and provide the right level of support, adjustments and resources to create equal opportunities for career growth. It’s not about elevating women over other women, it’s about creating a level playing field for all women. Life can change in an instant and we could all find ourselves in a position of needing some extra support and workplace adjustment to enable us to stay on our career path.
I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are already having these conversations. I’ve been passionate about equity (for all) for as long as I can remember. It’s a huge reason for my entering into this profession and anyone who has worked closely with me will vouch for me here.
Embracing equity makes business sense as it has been proven time and time again that diversity is a huge driver for growth and success. The changes we need to make aren’t huge, but the benefits to women, and ultimately everyone else, will be.