Where Is Your Equality?
As leaders, we’re sometimes dealt some pretty rough hands.
Imagine, for instance, that you’re brought in to manage a team only to find that it has struggled for years with gender inequality issues.
It can work both ways, too; perhaps your team is suspiciously flooded with male talent, or maybe the department you’ve been handed has more women in key positions than their male counterparts.
Often, this kind of gender inequality is entirely inadvertent and simply the result of many years’ poor investment in - and management of - recruitment.
It appears to be worse in certain industries, too. In my native land (the UK), for instance, statistics suggest that the country has the lowest number of female engineers in Europe.
So, what do you do as a leader if you’re faced with running a business that has seemingly thrown caution to the wind when it comes to gender inequality?
Thankfully, I think it’s relatively straightforward:
Redesign the pay structure
One of the most unpalatable aspects of gender inequality at work relates to pay.
Take a look at the pay scale in your business. Is it off kilter one way or the other? Are men rewarded more handsomely either with their base wage or via bonuses?
If it looks wrong, it probably is. Take time to create a fair, transparent salary range with the rest of your leadership team and implement it as soon as possible.
Build gender equality into training
The future for employees at your company should paint a picture where there are equal opportunities both in pay (see above) and career progression for absolutely everyone.
Think about the young people who will enter your organization; they need to see that their future within the business is promising and full of opportunity, regardless of their gender.
To do this, build gender equality into training by highlighting that there’s no unfair weighting to either men or women when it comes to gaining new skills. Training courses should also be open to all and focus on the individual’s career progression rather than their gender.
Make a big deal about work-life balance
Both men and women often play roles within their family that means a flexible working pattern would significantly improve their life outside the office.
Child care and other responsibilities can be more easily taken care of if the business for which you work demonstrates a positive, proactive attitude towards work-life balance.
If your business has held onto strict 9-5, Monday-Friday working patterns for many years, this might be a tough nut to crack, but once it’s addressed and a more modern policy of flexible working introduced, any gender inequality issues should begin to subside.
Aim for a 50/50 gender split
Why not make it a policy to ensure a 50/50 gender split within your business?
This should be enacted from individual teams right up to those who occupy seats at the boardroom table, and you’ll set a brilliant attitude towards gender equality if you take this company-wide approach.
Much like work-life balance, make a big deal of it, too. Set strategic goals within the business plan and its future projections to ensure the 50/50 split is maintained and impose sanctions if the rule is broken.
This might sound like a sledgehammer approach, but in order to become gender equal as a business, this is a mantra that needs to be woven directly into the fabric of the organization.
All teams should be equal, and if you have a sneaking suspicion that the one you’ve inherited has swung too far to one side of the gender divide, my tips above should help you bring it back.