How to develop a more gender-balanced workplace

gender pay gapTo address gender imbalance, you need to look at your organisation's existing practices, says Kate Palmer.

‘Balance for Better’ is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, which encourages organisations to address gender balance in their workplace.

Progressive employers shouldn't be afraid to take an honest look at their existing practices and consider how these could be improved.

These five steps will help you to do just that.

Review pay practices

By now, most employers should hopefully understand that it is unlawful to pay women less than men working in the same position.

However, there may be less obvious instances in which women are paid less than their male counterparts, despite not working in the exact same role. Individuals must be paid equally for work that is similar in nature, rated as equivalent and of equal value. Therefore, it's important to cast a critical eye over company pay practices on this basis.

Address unconscious bias in recruitment

How employers advertise and recruit for jobs also has a big influence on the gender balance of an organisation.

Adverts should be inclusive, and employers must avoid using gender-specific terms, or refusing applicants based on their gender. As the decision makers, interviewers have a big role to play – they should be trained in the dangers of unconscious bias, and be provided with a clear checklist of skills and experience to prevent hiring decisions being influenced by personal prejudice. 

Develop a positive company culture

Assess the working environment and consider if it’s welcoming and inclusive. More and more employees are choosing to work at places that have a positive company culture, and it's important that all employees feel that they belong.

This means that employers should work to create a supportive culture that actively discourages offensive workplace banter and toxic masculinity.

Create supportive workplace policies

Employers should also take a look at their workplace policies and consider how truly inclusive these are. Creating a gender balance is about more than making sure there are the exact same rules for men and women; it’s about ensuring that women are not disadvantaged in the workplace.

This means that employers should not shy away from issues such as providing extra support to working mothers by considering enhanced maternity leave, and being as reasonable as possible with flexible working requests.

Mentor female talent

A common criticism of last year’s gender pay gap reports was the distinct lack of women in leadership positions. It’s often suggested that a glass ceiling exists, preventing women from reaching top positions.

Even so, promoting a female manager as a token gesture will do little to truly address gender imbalance, and employers will be better served mentoring female talent and giving them equal opportunity to grow and develop within the organisation. This commitment to meritocracy will not go unnoticed and will create a more sustainable, gender-balanced workplace. 

About the author

Kate Palmer is associate director of advice at Peninsula, which offers HR, employment law and health and safety support services to businesses, as well as tax and payroll advice, employee assistance programmes and HR and health and safety training.

See also

Do your employees think you pay them fairly?