4 Ways to Create Equality in the Workplace for Women

April 29, 2019

Written By: Alicen Ricard

We have come a long way over the years on equality for women, and women are certainly rising to the top, but the fact remains that there are more CEOs named John than there are CEOs that are women. Trends in the wage gap are unfortunately not showing enough promise for improvement. There are many ways that companies could work to correct the issue, but we've chosen four strategies that all workplaces can consider for creating more equality in their organizations.

1. Equal Pay

It's no secret that women are paid less than men for doing the same job. Women have been protesting for higher wages for decades and despite the fact that it has gotten slightly better, the wage gap is still a problem.  

Since April 2018 the government in Ontario is taking steps to emliminate this problem by enstating the Pay Equity Act and the Employment Standards Act, 2000. These acts state that women and men must be paid equally for doing "equal work." In this fact sheet about the wage gap, they state that a couple ways to fix the wage gap are to help women get into STEM careers and to "Recognize gender stereotypes that reinforce notions of 'appropriate' work for men and women." The Ontario Equal Pay Coalition says that the first step to close the wage gap is to "treat closing the gap as a human rights priority."

Companies would also benefit from closing the wage gap in other ways. Women make up half of the talent pool. They are more willing to work for places that don't have as much of a wage gap, if any at all. Also stated in the fact sheet, closing the wage gap would boost the economy. More people could start working if the wages were more fair which would increase the revenue from taxes and could also help clear national debt.


2. Mentorship Supports Women in Leadership

Because more men hold the positions of power (ie being CEOs), more positions of power seem to go to like-minded individuals they can relate to--which means more men. If more women could get into these positions of power, more women would be able to get in.

A solution for women to achieve these positions easier is to have a mentor. Our White Paper on mentoring states that women who have a mentor advance more quickly than those who don't. There are two types of mentoring - formal and informal mentoring. Formal relationships are often arranged by an organization or workplace, have pre-articulated expectations, and often include launches, wrap-ups, and socials to normalize expectations. Formal mentorships create an environment where it is easy to get involved.

Informal mentoring is often arranged by individuals, so expectations are not always pre-determined and must be set by the mentor and mentee. They often focus on a specific need. Time commitments are more flexible, and informal mentorship is less “visible.” Difficulty establishing connections can make it challenging to become involved.

Workplaces that create mentoring programs will support their diverse staff better and create opportunities for women to advance. Another resource on our website for networking and mentoring is Ellevate

3. Maternity Leave and Subsidized Child Care

Another reason why it can be difficult to get into an executive position is women often have to put their careers "on hold" if they want to have children. There is no opportunity to advance your career if you have to take time off on maternity leave and sometimes companies will even refrain from  hiring someone if they think the person may become pregnant.

In a previous blog post we talked about how having good parental leave policies can benefit women in STEM. A lot of places in Europe have far better parental leave policies than there are in North America and many give leave for both parents. However, Canada recently added more parental leave for men. The more parental leave is seen as being something both parents take on, the less this will impact employer's hesitations to hire or promote women who plan to have children.

4. Blind Hiring

If employers kept identifying information like gender hidden, hiring in the workplace would be far more equal. Seeing men as more qualified in STEM fields is a result of unconcious bias, or, the assumptions and conclusions we jump to without thinking. A step in the right direction would be looking at the bulk of a resume without even looking at the name. HRx Technology, an organization that was involved in our last Creating Connections conference, is a company based here in Vancouver that provides technology to hire blindly by taking names, ages, and gender off of resumes. In this interview, CEO of the company, Wyle Baoween stated, "We keep what matters to recruiters: we show them the skills, the position, what kind of company this person worked at, we show them the education, the degree, but not the name of the school." This is a huge step in the right direction other companies could learn from.

There are many benefits to creating a more diversive workplace - not just for women, but for all employees. Our Understanding Workplace Diversity White Paper gives some good examples of these including: lower turnover, higher employee engagement, stronger fiscal performance, improved governance, and improved client relationships and satisfaction. Promoting diversity is not limited to gender; workplaces should be inclusive and welcoming to all.

It only takes a few changes to get the ball rolling. Once change starts happening, it will become easier and easier to add more changes to the way STEM industries operate. Equality for women at work is a goal that is in sight, we just aren't there yet.  

Check out stories from women in the workplace on our podcast, Best of the WWEST