Gender Equity transcends Equality
Unless you are the one who really cares about this, it is not terribly important. What all matters are how your hybrid mobile application development is going to work in the long run as no one will care about how it was built.
Historically our world is tilted in favor of men and most workplaces have been designed for men by men, with gender bias embedded in its practices, culture and ethos through decades.
Acknowledging that systemic inequities has often marred the journey and progress of women in our workplaces and society at large is crucial for change. Organizations who look at their Gender Inclusion efforts with this lens are likely to succeed and reap the business and cultural benefits far better than others.
From work schedules and flexibility to leadership opportunities and pay parity, to office infrastructure and policies women continue to grapple with too many challenges that demotivation, self doubt, burn-out and increased higher attrition,.
Here are some level the playing field actions organizations can take to lead with an equitable lens in their Gender Inclusion journey –
Representation matters – Affirmative action is a necessary tool for addressing systemic barriers and biases that prevent women from fully participating in the workforce and advancing in their careers. Gender representation matters and an organization wide gender diversity targets with a well thought out strategy to hire, support, grow and retain women employees is key.
Leadership accountability – Leaders should be held accountable for equitable workplace practices and behaviors. When leaders demonstrate a commitment to gender equity, they set an example for others across the organisation from their executive and functional leaders to team managers. A leader’s performance reviews should include gender equity goals, with established and clear measurable targets that align with the organization’s overall DEI goals helps in building a purposeful strategy around this.
Address the leaky pipeline of experienced women in the workforce – According to a recent LinkedIn survey 7 in 10 working women quit their jobs due to lack of support, flexibility, work-life balance and discrimination. Career breaks are the top reason why we see a low representation of women in mid and senior levels. It disrupts their career trajectory and makes it harder to advance and restart. The impact of career breaks is particularly pronounced due to the cultural expectations around gender roles and familial responsibilities. Restarter Programs for Women is an effective way to bring back experienced women and increase representation at the mid/senior level. These programs typically include training & internship. It ensures that the skills of the women returnees are up-to-date and improved before they are ready to dive back into their careers. Thoughtworks VAPASI program, Career Reboot program by Accenture and Restart with Infosys are some successful programs in this endeavor.
Build your pipeline of Women Leaders – As per a recent Randstad report, In India 50% of all working women leave the workforce between junior and middle management levels, which has a snowball effect on building the pipeline of potential leaders. It’s a proven fact that an increase of women in leadership roles serves the business better from higher revenue, better employee engagement, and broader positive societal impact as well. Efforts to build a pipeline of women leaders needs to be intentional, sustained and with an exclusive Leadership Development Program specifically designed for women leaders as the challenges they face differ from those of men. The imposter syndrome, lack of work life balance and career gaps make it all the more difficult for women to rise up the ladder.
Allies and taking men along this journey – Men as visible and active advocates and sponsors of gender equity, become agents of change. Allyship matters, it helps challenge gender norms at the workplace and beyond. When men speak out against bias and discrimination, mentor and sponsor women and lead by example they help drive change that has far reaching effects on the workplace and society at large.
Invest in building a Gender Equity Community/ERG with established goals and objectives. This offers networking, collaboration and development opportunities both formal and informal. It also is a space to validate and get feedback on your gender equity efforts. When backed by an Executive Sponsor it sends a clear message that you care and it matters to the business. In addition an exclusive circle of sisterhood can also help women build confidence and resilience while offering a safe space to connect and build an empowered community. Collective advocacy evokes change.
Review, Rework and Sponsor – Review all your processes, practices and programs from recruitment, performance appraisal and compensation, grade change to leadership development programs. Rework your policies, benefits with a gender neutral lens and offer sponsorship for participation and speaking opportunities in conferences, business events etc. both internal and external.
It’s also important to remember that gender is a spectrum that encompasses a range of gender identities and expressions and it’s not a binary concept. We should also recognize that gender identity and expression can intersect with other aspects of identity, such as sexual orientation, caste, class and disability. Educating and building awareness about the various aspects of gender inequity, unconscious bias and the impact it has in our workplaces and life at large, will help drive holistic change.
P.S – This blog was written for Times of India and published on