“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.” – Marian Wright Edelman
Money isn’t the reason women (or men) stay at a job long-term, but it is the reason to have a job in the first place. And for women in the U.S., the key amount of money is 78 cents.
It is widely known that women in America make roughly 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes in the same position. And minority women make even less. Still, this figure is just the beginning of the story of gender inequality in the workplace.
Over the course of the past 15 years, women’s participation in the labor force has actually declined. In 2000, the participation rate of women was 59.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census. In 2015 this rate had dropped to 56.7 percent.
According to Gallup, there are a couple factors that have contributed to the decline of women participating in the workforce.
These factors are: pay being less of a factor than other workplace attributes in women’s employment decisions, and outdated company cultures affecting women personally and professionally.
Fortunately, there are several ways that businesses can combat this gender discrimination. Your company’s benefits are a powerful tool to reduce gender inequality in the workplace.
How do women help business?
Before we get into what specifically your firm can do to decrease gender inequality, we must first examine how significant gender diversity is for business. Multiple reports describe just how valuable women can be to your team.
A Gallup study found that gender-diverse business units in a retail company had 14 percent higher average comparable revenue than those units that weren’t as diverse.
It also found that gender-diverse business units in a hospitality company had 19 percent higher average quarterly net profits than less-diverse business units.
Women provide another voice and point of view that your company would otherwise sorely miss. Having a gender diverse workforce can improve decision-making and increase innovation.
Ending gender inequality in the workplace could massively benefit not just businesses in the U.S., but companies around the world. A report from BNY Mellon and the UN Foundation estimated that workplace gender equality could release $300 billion in annual global spending by 2025.
What Benefits Can You Provide and How They Will Help?
Your employee benefits package is a major factor in recruiting and retaining the top employees. It can also be used to target specific groups of recruits. Each of the following four benefits can work to reduce specific barriers to women entering the workplace.
1. Paid Time Off
Paid time off, or PTO, is a paid leave plan that combines sick leave and vacation time. PTO gives employees a set bank of time off at the beginning of each year.
The difference between PTO and standard, separated, leave is that employees have a greater ability to choose when and why they are going to take their time off.
Employees now get their entire bank to use for sickness, vacation, running errands, or appointments. They no longer have to be one, or the other. PTO gives employees increased flexibility with their time off.
Paid time off boosts gender parity a few ways. First, PTO helps because it allows women with a family to schedule their time off, around any familial obligations.
Having PTO allows women to take children to appointments or stay home if a child is ill. According to a Gallup poll, more than half (54 percent) of women who don’t work and have a younger child say their child is a major reason why they are not working.
PTO gives women the flexibility to take care of a child’s major needs without affecting their ability to work. The positives PTO offers are very similar to the next benefit.
2. Flexible Work Options
Flexible work options include flexible location, flexible schedule, and flexible time. Each of these options presents unique benefits, especially for working women.
Flexible location gives your employees the ability to choose where they work. A flexible schedule gives your staff the ability to choose when they work. Flexible hours give your employees the power to choose the number of hours they work during the week.
Similar to PTO, the increased flexibility (duh) offered by these options allow women with a family to work without giving up a dramatic amount of time around the home.
The previously mentioned poll by Gallup, also found that 53 percent of stay-at-home moms say flexible hours/ work schedules are a major factor in their ability to take a job. These work options let mothers work from home, work around their children’s school, and work while on the go.
Read more about flexible work options.
One benefit that is often overlooked is proper recognition. Almost everyone enjoys recognition and knows that it is imperative to employee happiness. Still, it is crucial to give recognition in a way that helps to improve gender equality.
Research from Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research uncovered why proper recognition for women in the workplace is so important.
Their research found that men tend to attribute a woman’s success to external factors and “luck” rather than attributing it to her respective individual effort and abilities, as they would for a man.
For this reason, it is crucial that managers, when designating recognition or promotions, have specific details and instances recorded for why that employee is being recognized.
To be clear, your leadership should record these reasons for recognition in regards to both men and women. Having concrete, and detailed reasons for recognition eliminates any doubt as to why that employee is being recognized or promoted.
4. Parental Leave
The last benefit your firm can use to reduce gender inequality in the workplace is parental leave. Take note that you should offer “parental” leave, not just maternal. Although, maternal leave is a superb start.
Paternal leave is paid time off for new parents, mom or dad, after the birth or adoption of a child. This leave provides parents with an opportunity to take care of their child without the stress of work getting in the way.
Additionally, paid parental leave further reduces employees’ stress because they don’t have to worry about money, like they would if they took unpaid leave, such as FMLA.
Money is an enormous source of stress in this country. A Harris Poll conducted for Purchasing Power found that 80 percent of employees are under financial stress.
This stress can have a significant negative impact on businesses. Stress costs employers an average of $300 billion a year in stress-related healthcare and missed work.
Giving parents paid leave for a new child, helps to alleviate the financial stress of this situation. Parents who are less stressed also help your company, because they are able to return, and be more productive, sooner.
Offering parental leave is especially critical to lowering gender discrimination in the workplace. When fathers are taking leave for new children, it normalizes the act across genders. This normalization reduces the likelihood of gender discrimination in hiring and promotion decisions.
There are simply not enough women participating in the labor force, and businesses suffer as a result. According to Forbes, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that narrowing the global gender gap could add $12 trillion to the world’s gross domestic product.
Furthermore, a study of gender diversity of firms in S&P’s composite 1,500 list revealed that female representation in top management leads to an average increase of $42 million in firm value.
Having a gender-diverse workforce will only help your company. So if you are still contemplating what to do, don’t. Use these four benefits to eliminate gender inequality in the workplace.
Businesses are like men. The great ones have great women behind them.