Despite Progress, Companies Need to Do More to Address Gender Inequity
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One of the keys in the fight for gender equity in the workplace is the important disclosure of social data found in the reports of companies listed on stock exchanges. One example is the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI).
One of the objectives of the GEI is to make inclusive work environments visible so that more and more companies engage in emerging HR practices, such as instituting a work-life balance and providing flexible work arrangements. As a result, doing so will retain a consistently talented workforce and create a competitive advantage in today's changing business environment.
It is initiatives like GEI that show companies where they are on the road to gender parity relative to their peers. Not only that, it holds them accountable for setting and meeting their own equity and inclusion goals. This way, every effort to meet those objectives can be sustained and not “go out of style.”
As a woman, I've found that working at a company that equally focuses on equity and things such as profitability or governance is practically like winning the lottery. It means you've come to an institution that fosters female leadership and talent pool; that ensures equal pay and gender pay parity; that operates under an inclusive culture, and that applies policies to avoid sexual harassment. That is, you have come to a pro-woman company.
Currently, companies are using the Bloomberg GEI to measure their gender diversity programs' scope and effectiveness. Of these businesses, those that have stood out have responded effectively to three specific objectives: promotion of a culture in which having different sensitivities and capacities is perceived as a value, breaking down prejudices and stereotypes in the process; procedures that ensure meritocracy; and support for women in their effort to break down both social and self-imposed barriers.
But what about companies in the IT industry? According to data from ILOSTAT, the International Labor Organization's statistics website, when women get a tech job, they face an average gender pay gap of 21% — greater than the average gender pay gap of 16% in general. In other words, there is still a long way to go.
As women at the forefront of key areas in a technology company, we are responsible in guaranteeing the advancement of women and making diversity one of the pillars of cultural transformation. From my experience, the tools that we can use to promote equity are equality guidelines, HR procedures that ensure meritocracy, and codes of ethics and legal compliance that include principles of professionalism and respect.
Having women lead businesses is necessary, since it encourages different points of view and approaches to day-to-day problems. Without a doubt, it also enriches ideas within organizations. In addition, having women in leadership inspires more college-age women to enroll in certain careers they would not have considered, such as STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
A pro-woman company is capable of seeing powerful business skills in a woman, such as flexibility, the ability to negotiate, listening and communicating, empathy, and willingness to work in teams. IT companies are seemingly headed in that direction, as they include more women of high professional value in their ranks.