In honor of today, International Women's Day, I watched multiple videos on the International Women’s Day website around the topic of women in the workplace from companies such as Ernst & Young, DreamWorks, BP and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Each organization highlighted unique aspects to the role women play in the workplace.
Reflecting on the videos, my main takeaway is this: Consider women’s equality in everything you do.
I believe the majority of people would agree that the worth of women is equal to that of men. I hear many people say they agree that women should have equal rights in the workplace as men, but if this is the case, then why do gender inequalities still exist?
Oftentimes, gender inequality is not intentional. Much of the time inequality stems from a series of smaller events such as education and traditional career paths. Taking it a step further, inequality could remain because of the lack of mentorship. Perhaps women do not have as many connections as men and they fly under the radar when seeking employment. At work, women could be overlooked for promotions, and they may be consistently paid less than their male counterparts because of a glass ceiling from a previous employer.
My intention in this article is not to convince you that gender inequality exists. It does, and according to the World Economic Forum, it will be 117 years before we achieve gender parity. The point I want to make is that we need to do something about it now. We shouldn't have to wait 117 years.
It is one thing to believe and understand the ways in which men and women are not on the same playing field, but it is another to take action towards making a change. Everyone has the responsibility to behave in ways that demonstrate we not only understand the need for gender equality, but are also taking steps towards implementing gender equality in the workplace.
We as HR professionals are in a unique position to influence change. We impact the brand of the organization both externally through collaboration with other departments and internally through the opportunities we offer to our employees. So, we need to ask ourselves the following questions: Are we listening to the needs of our female employees? Do we have fair recruitment policies? What benefits are we offering our employees, and do they equally support men and women? Are our teams gender-diverse? Are women receiving equal opportunities for promotions? How are we developing women in the company?
Moreover, it is not enough to answer these questions in a broad sense, but we must also go further and think about our everyday behaviors. In a team meeting, for instance, are you doing your part to ensure women are being heard just as much as the men? Are their opinions valued?
At the end of the day, focusing on gender equality is of benefit to everyone. Let’s do better. #BeBoldForChange
Rita Snell is a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate Programs in Human Resource Development at Villanova University. She also serves as the Co-President for the VUSHRM chapter. Learn more about her here.