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Increasing Representation and Gender Equality in the Workplace

Contributors: Sara Morris

While the conversation of gender equity in the workplace continues and progresses, the gap persists, nonetheless. From entry-level to C-suite, gender inequality exists in the workplace. There are seven times as many men in executive positions as opposed to women, and, at the CEO level, men outnumber women by almost 17 to one. 

Women are still only making 84 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Black women earn 57 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns, and Native women earn 50 cents and Latinas earn 49 cents for that same dollar.   

Even more significantly, people in these groups are also found to be less likely to be promoted to senior-level positions. Across the board, there are inequalities throughout many marginalized groups and intersections, demonstrated through the vast imbalance in both wages and opportunities for advancement into leadership roles. 

As businesses continue to navigate pandemic-related issues in their typical agendas, prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE+I) and gender equity efforts in the workplace should be at the top of the list. This is especially significant following COVID-19, as the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on marginalized groups could hinder equitable growth and opportunity in the workplace for individuals across all gender identities, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.  

Women + Non-Binary Individuals in the Workplace

When looking specifically at women in the workplace, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of women qualified to fill leadership roles; in fact, women outperform men in education, overall earning more bachelor’s and master’s degrees. So, why are women severely lacking in leadership opportunities? Many businesses blame this phenomenon on the work-family narrative, where women’s traditional roles in the household make it more difficult to put in hours needed to reach the C-suite level. However, the gender gap entails much more than a simple meritocracy. Discrimination, historical biases, and workplace culture still affect women’s potential in the workplace.  

These same barriers and biases for women in the workplace exist for non-binary individuals, too. With the growing recognition of people who exist outside of the traditional gender binary, organizations need to prioritize non-binary growth and equity in the workplace, as societal progression hasn’t caught up in great strides and leaps like we have seen with women’s growth.  

While we know that the LGBTQ+ community has been discriminated against in the workplace for decades, trans and non-binary people are being disproportionally affected by this aggression. Studies show that under 50% of gay individuals experience some form of discrimination at work; however, that number is around 90% for transgender and non-binary people 

Easily stated, the workplace is far behind in terms of equity for non-binary and trans individuals. As workplaces work to be more gender inclusive, they’ll also need to take intentional strides to ensure they’re providing equitable opportunity for growth and leadership for these individuals, too. 

Closing the Gap 

  • Creating Support Networks: Businesses need to prioritize establishing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace in order to help close the gap on gender inequity. This means making organizational changes toward supporting women’s and gender non-conforming individuals’ career paths and goals, such as providing development plans that support each person’s unique requirements and professional aspirations or creating support networks, in order to take true and meaningful action. Companies will need to start using metrics that evaluate performance equitably across the board through various gender identities, sexual orientations, and races.  
  • Recognizing – and Addressing – Biases: Businesses also need to focus on creating a culture that embraces women and gender non-conforming gender identities in leadership and fosters their corporate growth. Biases, whether conscious or not, need to be recognized in order to be eliminated. This action requires accountability and initiative, starting at the top with C-suite leaders including gender diversity as part of their strategic agenda. Executives should regularly and openly challenge gender-biased behaviors and be held accountable when there’s lack of diversity and inclusive gender practices. This includes supporting all gender identities and considering prior discrimination and future progress for non-binary and trans individuals as well. 
  • Investing in Upskilling and Reskilling: Investing in upskilling and reskilling is essential for any company, but it also presents a significant opportunity to remove barriers and promote growth for underrepresented individuals in the workplace. Businesses need to acknowledge that each employee has unique needs and potentially a very different career path. By providing skills training or professional development opportunities within, and specifically targeting those opportunities to women, non-binary, and/or trans individuals, companies can take greater steps to create a more diverse and equitable culture.

Assessing the discrepancies in your workplace and creating strategies to address them can foster greater gender equality and representation for your organization. Human resources and internal teams coupled with DE+I experts can help your organization implement a system that enables career growth for all individuals.

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Contributions by Leah Harding and Christina Farrell

Tags: Diversity + Inclusion