5 Things Companies Are Getting Right About Gender Equity
Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.
Keep Doing This: 5 Parts Of A Successful Gender Equity Strategy
When it comes to promoting gender equity, what are some things that companies are doing right and should keep doing?
Curious about something? Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of Brave Souls®.
Every people decision a company makes will do one of two things: it will either bring the company closer to gender equity. Or it will push them further from gender equity.
Stop to think about how many people decisions your organization makes every day.
- What should our work-from-home policy be?
- Do we need to update our benefits package?
- Who can take on this additional sales territory?
- How many people will we let go after the merger?
- Who should we promote to senior marketing manager?
- Who will help us organize the annual company barbecue?
- What political groups will we support this election season?
That’s a lot of decisions — and a lot of opportunities for companies to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. So let’s walk through some of the more DEI-supportive decisions we’ve seen companies take in recent months. Here are the top five ways I’ve seen companies excelling at gender equity.
5 Things (Some) Companies Are Getting Right About Gender Equity
1. Using data to guide the strategy
Analysts scoured the research to find the “magic recipe” to achieve DEI goals. Here’s what they concluded after a rigorous review of the evidence: companies that want to make tangible progress toward gender equity “must develop appropriate goals and metrics, share them with stakeholders, and embrace accountability for outcomes.”
Seems straightforward, yet only 22% of employees say that progress toward gender equity is regularly measured and shared at their companies despite the fact that 96% of CEOs list gender equity among their top priorities. That’s a 74-point gap.
Data-driven companies are 58% more likely than non-data-driven companies to beat their revenue goals. If gender equity matters to your business, measure it.
2. Mainstreaming equity into operations
Data will tell you how effective you are at achieving your gender equity goals. But just because data can talk the talk doesn’t mean it can walk the walk. Only 34% of employees rate their organization’s DEI strategy as effective. To actually move the needle on gender equity, you need to mainstream (or embed) equity into the entire employee lifecycle.
Instead of optimizing for a single metric (e.g. gender pay gap, % women in leadership), look at how inequity creeps into all aspects of the workplace. Consider following this framework to get started:
First, map out every touchpoint in the employee lifecycle: recruitment, hiring, promotion, pay, potential, etc.
Second, identify how and where bias sneaks into these touchpoints. Using performance as an example, we know from our data that a third of all performance reviews contain bias, leading to women receiving lower performance ratings 4% of the time. This bias influences the company’s perception of a woman’s potential, eligibility for promotion, and ultimately pay.
Third, create a plan to eliminate bias from said touchpoint. For the performance example, you might decide to use NLP software that can “read” performance reviews and flag them for instances of bias. This flagging gives the evaluator an opportunity to deliver a more accurate and equitable appraisal.
3. Bringing men into the conversation
Men are approximately 50% of the gender equity conversation. They’re also a more-than 50% part of the solution. As the leaders of 82% of the world’s firms globally, it’s men who have the power to tip the scales toward equity.
Oh, and there’s a good chance the men at your organization want to join the gender equity conversation but don’t because they believe they have an illegitimate place in the conversation. (They have what researchers call a lower psychological standing in the matter based on the framing of gender equity as a “women’s issue.”)
It’s time we welcome men into the gender equity conversation. The byproduct of equity extends to all genders.
4. Offering gender-neutral caregiver benefits
Removing maternal, paternal, or parental qualifiers eliminates bias between benefit packages. All employees should receive the same level of resources to take care of their loved ones. Gender-neutral caregiver leave also recognizes the growing number of employees (majority women) who are caring for an elderly parent. In fact, 47% of adults ages 40 to 59 care for an elderly parent while also supporting a child of their own.
And, gender-neutrality removes the stigma associated with the paternity or maternity labels. For instance, nearly two-thirds of men believe that taking time off to spend with their children “would be perceived as a lack of commitment to their jobs.” The caregiver label provides a simple narrative nudge toward equity. Fathers, and all employees, should have the opportunity to play a greater role in their families’ lives — no stigma attached.
5. Creating equitable work-from-home policies
Men with children who worked remotely during the pandemic received promotions at nearly 3x the rate of women in the same situation. And 26% of men with children compared to 13% of women with children received a pay raise while working remotely during the pandemic.
Moreover, women and Black employees are more likely than men to want to work from home, yet more men (61%) have been offered the opportunity to do so than women (52%).
Not only do companies need to apply the gender equity lens when crafting work-from-home policies (who can work from home and to what extent), they also need to apply the gender equity lens to employee operations (see point #2 about mainstreaming) to mitigate proximity bias between in-person versus remote employees.
As it stands, 82% of business leaders endorse hybrid work arrangements, but only 13% are concerned about ensuring parity between remote and in-office employees post-pandemic.
TL;DR: to make progress toward gender equity →
- DO use data to guide your strategy, DON’T rely on good intentions alone
- DO mainstream equity into company operations, DON’T over-index on one-off initiatives
- DO bring men into the conversation, DON’T vilify them
- DO offer gender-neutral caregiver benefits, DON’T promote stereotypes
- DO create equitable work-from-home policies, DON’T assume WFH is gender-neutral