Closing The Gender Gap In The Workplace
We’ve certainly come a long way from the old days, when women in the workforce were expected to be seen and not heard. As anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” (or worked during that era and lived to tell about it!) can attest, the workplace was exclusively a man’s world.
But despite our progress, the gender gap in the business community continues to be a hot topic these days. Shouldn’t men and women be paid the same to do the same job? Haven’t women proven that they are just as skilled, intelligent and driven as their male counterparts? Why does a gender gap still exist, anyway?
I’d like to think that no one intentionally denies their employees equal opportunities and fair pay for any reason, including gender. But, unfortunately, it does happen – even if it’s just on a subconscious level.
An organization is only as strong as its employees. Men and women are equal and integral parts of the equation. Successful companies recognize that diverse opinions and skill sets are invaluable assets to the modern business, and they have begun to hire and promote accordingly.
The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.
LEADERSHIP: You Hold the Keys to Change
Even if your intentions are pure, your actions may fall short. Remember, your employees are following your lead, so be sure you’re setting the proper tone at the top. For help, survey your employees to find out how you’re doing in this area. You can also take the following steps to help close the gender gap in your business:
- Ensure that women are represented at all levels of the company, and keep them involved in management decisions.
- Pay women equally as their male counterparts.
- Don’t assume that a woman with family obligations isn’t up for the challenge of a promotion or increased responsibility.
- Take time to listen to the concerns of women within your organization and foster an environment of open communication.
MEN: You Play an Important Role, Too
It’s the job of every man in the company to respect and treat their female colleagues as equals. You can do this by:
- Becoming aware of communication differences between genders and encouraging women to participate and offer their ideas.
- Actively working to include your female colleagues in the same way you do other men.
LADIES: Support One Another
Women in leadership positions have a unique opportunity to support other females in the organization, both by serving as mentors and acting as “spokeswomen” for gender issues with upper management. Additionally,
- Organize and participate in groups that address common issues women face in the workplace.
- Be visible. Make sure company leadership sees your work ethic and initiative, and ensure your opinions are heard.
- Find ways to connect with your male colleagues.
Men and women bring different yet equally valuable perspectives to the workplace, and all contributions should be respected. We’re on the same team, working toward the same goal — let’s ensure we always act accordingly.
By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc-Taxation (Wooster office)