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How to Combat Gender Inequality in the Workplace

How to Combat Gender Inequality in the Workplace
In the last century, the number of women in the workplace has increased dramatically. In 1901 women had a mere 14% labour-force participation rate and in 2014 the rate had increased to 84%. Even though tremendous progress has been made in raising the number of working women, there have been many challenges that came with joining the paid workforce later than men.

Women are economically disadvantaged
Simply being a woman is an automatic economic disadvantage. In 2020 women were still underrepresented at every level, and women of colour even more so. The corporate pipeline shows a steady decline in the number of women; women represent just 34% of senior managers, 30% of vice presidents, 26% of senior vice presidents, and 21% of C-suite executives. One in four women think that their gender has played a role in missing out on a promotion or raise, and one in four employees say they’ve observed biased behaviour toward women. (
McKinsey & Company, 2019

Women who are disabled, black, Latina, Asian, lesbian, or bisexual face even more challenges. In the corporate pipeline, black women are staggeringly underrepresented, accounting for a mere 9% of senior managers, 7% of vice presidents, 5% of senior vice presidents, and 4% of C-suite executives. “Black women and women with disabilities are far less likely to feel they have an equal opportunity to grow and advance, and are far less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees.” (McKinsey & Company, 2019)

What can workplaces do to combat gender inequalities?
Implementing better practices for hiring, promoting and decision-making benefits the workplace as a whole. When hiring and promotions are unbiased, the most deserving employees can rise to the top and employees feel more confident that the process for advancement is fair. “Fewer than half of women and men think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and fewer than a quarter say that only the most qualified candidates are promoted to manager.” (
McKinsey & Company, 2019)

Companies can work to combat gender inequalities by: 

  • Educating employees on gender inequalities in the workplace and providing workshops such as unconscious bias training; 
  • Establishing clear evaluation criteria and integrating the use of data collecting technologies into hiring, promoting and delegating decisions; 
  • Setting and tracking gender diversity targets, sharing it with all employees and holding leaders accountable. 

People like to think that gender equality in the workplace is within reach. in reality, unless we close the huge gap in hiring and promotions, we are many decades away from reaching gender parity- if we reach it at all. (McKinsey & Company, 2019)

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