The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 found that it would take an additional 100 years to achieve gender equality. This is a sobering prediction, to say the least. And the pandemic has adversely affected women’s careers and roles in the workplace more than it has men’s, further upsetting the already unbalanced circumstances.
Women are equal to men in every way, and deserve the same career opportunities at work. The fact that this isn't the case is unjust and unsettling. But beyond gender diversity being the right and just way of creating a workplace, it also has positive impacts on everyone involved.
So, what are the positives of gender diversity in the workplace? Here are just 10 of the many.
Gender diversity is similar to gender equality in that it means all genders are treated with the same respect and offered the same or equivalent opportunities at work. It also encompasses representation — all genders must be well-represented in the workplace.
This goes beyond hiring genders at the same rates, although that is certainly part of it. It means businesses and organizations must introduce proactive measures to recruit, retain and engage employees of all genders, as well as compensate and promote them. It’s not enough to simply have these genders present in the workplace; they must also be afforded the same opportunities and be set up for success at equal measures.
Although some fields are considered male-dominated, industry leaders must make strides to achieving gender diversity regardless. This is because there are so many benefits to having a diverse workforce, gender-wise and otherwise.
Just what are some of these benefits? Let’s take a look.
There is an abundance of untapped talent that could greatly benefit your organization. When you proactively work on achieving gender diversity at your business, you may well find a hidden talent you haven’t previously considered, solely because you haven’t made it a priority or haven’t been looking in the right places.
Moreover, if you aren’t taking advantage of the existing talent of all genders within the organization — perhaps because you haven’t given them the opportunity to by failing to promote them to leadership roles — you could quite possibly be losing out.
Similarly, seeking out gender diversity allows you to bring new perspectives to the organization.
Research published in the Harvard Business Review finds that when there are diverse backgrounds and experiences in the leadership team (or teams) at the organization, it can lead to greater creativity and innovation. That’s probably because contributors have different perspectives to offer, which will spark different ideas.
Moreover, if you’re drawing from a single pool consisting of similar people and perspectives, then chances are, you aren’t able to get inside the shoes of your entire customer base. You’re not targeting a single type of user, after all — you want to reach many, something you can only achieve with a diverse employee base. Ultimately this allows you to achieve better results.
In a study of more than 1,000 films across 35 countries and 24 industries, assessing revenue and market value, Letian Zhang found that gender diversity was correlated to greater productivity within companies. However, the research revealed that this is true when gender diversity has been normatively accepted — meaning that participants accept it is important.
Correlation, of course, does not prove causation. But this research would suggest that gender diversity has concrete value in terms of productivity of employees when people have a vested interest in it. Therefore, in order to reap the rewards of gender diversity, not only should businesses make strides to improve it but also promote buy-in underscoring its importance.
When you offer experiences and opportunities to people of all genders, chances are very good that you’re promoting greater satisfaction among employees. Those who are able to take advantage of experiences — including promotions and a stronger voice in key decisions and conversations — will no doubt feel more supported and engaged.
Even those who haven’t yet reached leadership roles are likely to reap the rewards, too, because they’ll see a path forward for themselves that they may not have been able to without their genders represented in top positions at their organization.
High employee turnover is costly and time-consuming. It means investing a significant amount of time and effort into finding the right candidates, along with spending a significant amount of money into the hiring process and onboarding new employees — all while you’re quite possibly losing revenue during the time you’re short of the critical skills and work you need.
But gender diversity can lead to better employee retention. After all, employees are far less likely to leave when they feel that their company values their input and perspective and is making an effort to ensure they feel comfortable and heard.
To remain competitive in your industry, you need to attract top talent. And improving gender diversity in your workplace can help.
Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers said that diversity plays an important role when they are considering offers and organizations. Diversity, of course, encompasses many groups, backgrounds and perspectives — not just gender. That’s why it is important to ramp up your efforts to increase diversity, representation and inclusion in all respects, such as race, ethnicity and more.
Having identical views and backgrounds doesn’t mean your organization will be more collaborative. While it’s highly possible that you’ll have more agreement on your teams, bear in mind that that’s not the same thing as collaboration — it probably means less disruption and innovation, both of which are critical for moving forward as an organization. To collaborate effectively, you need many voices on a team — voices that won’t agree all the time.
But disagreement, when it’s productive and mature, can lead to better decisions and more creativity. That’s one reason why it’s so critical to improve gender diversity: you’ll achieve stronger collaboration and ultimately better results.
Ultimately, unless you’re a nonprofit, your business is most likely seeking to increase revenue. Here’s the good news: gender diversity is tied to better profits.
McKinsey & Company found that companies that are in the top quartile for gender diversity are more likely to have “financial returns about their respective national industry medians. Again — correlation doesn’t prove causation. But what’s the downside to investing in gender diversity at your business?
Some products are geared to specific customer bases. But many are intended to appeal to a wide variety of clients and users. As we’ve discussed, unless you’re trying to appeal to a very select market, you’ll want to attract a wide variety of clientele.
Gender diversity in your workforce is a means of gaining critical viewpoints that allow you to identify with prospective consumers. This will enable you to empathize with the people to whom you want to sell your products and services. Without having that critical diversity of thought and opinion, you’re limiting yourself and the possibilities you could have when it comes to your business.
Your reputation as a business is paramount, no matter what your industry or niche. And when you make efforts to improve your diversity and inclusivity — gender-wise and otherwise — you’re sending a clear message about what you believe in and stand for. These efforts will contribute to your positive reputation, no matter how much your company makes or how much it grows in the future. Opportunities will only increase for you and your employees.
So, you understand the benefits of gender diversity in your organization. Now, how do you achieve it as a leader?
How is your company doing in terms of gender diversity right now? Until you know what your current situation is, you can’t take strides to improve it.
There are many ways to evaluate your baseline in order to understand where and how you can improve as a company. For example, you might distribute an anonymous survey that allows employees to voice their opinions and concerns, as well as tell you what they think is working.
The hiring process is one of the areas where gender diversity suffers the most — and it’s also a place where you can and should devote significant attention to improving. Take a look at your job descriptions. Do they promote inclusivity? Do they encourage people of all genders and backgrounds to apply? Do they use gender-neutral language? How might they appeal to people of different genders?
Interviewing practices are another area of focus. Are hiring managers intentionally or unintentionally interviewing candidates differently? Moreover, do you have people of different genders and backgrounds conducting the interviews?
And what about your recruitment practices? Are you seeking out diverse candidates? These are all important areas to study and improve.
Encourage gender diversity by developing and implementing initiatives that support it in the workplace, such as employee resources groups (ERGs) aimed at giving people of all genders voices at their organizations. eBay, for example, implemented the Women’s Initiative Network about 10 years ago. This is intended to help women succeed and become leaders at the company.
Look at the benefits you offer, too, from paid parental leave (both maternity and paternity) to career-development resources. These, too, can help people of all genders succeed and grow in their careers.
We all have biases. In order to prevent them from interfering with your organization and gender diversity efforts, educate all employees on biases. Management and leadership should receive additional training because they’re the ones who are most able to make decisions that affect the entire organization and need to recognize their own biases and those of others.
The gender wage gap continues to persist — according to the latest research, on average, women are paid 82 cents to the dollar men are paid. There is an even greater wage disparity when it comes to women of certain races and ethnicities.
However, this doesn’t have to be true for your business. Perform a thorough review of salaries (along with bonuses, benefits and other forms of compensation) at your company to see if people of different genders are being compensated equally for equivalent jobs and work. If any gaps exist, prioritize addressing. Ensure that women aren’t being unfairly penalized for taking maternity leave, for example. Also, look into the gender diversity in leadership positions. If there aren’t many women in top roles, that’s something you should work to address, too.
For more information on gender diversity in the workplace, read Fairygodboss’ extensive research on the topic:
Additional reports and research are available here.
Has your organization taken strides to improve gender diversity in the workplace? How has it benefitted employees and the business? Let us know!