There are a lot of reasons for employers to actively avoid creating an atmosphere that fosters or allows gender discrimination. One of those reasons, of course, is that doing so opens up employers to lawsuits, penalties, and serious revenue loss.
But the other reasons aren’t as simple as wanting to avoid a lawsuit. Ethical employers also choose to prevent gender discrimination in the workplace because they want to create a positive and encouraging work environment, where the culture and community values workers no matter their gender.
If you are an employer or an upper-level manager, avoiding gender discrimination requires a willingness to examine your company’s policies, history, culture, and awareness in order to correct any current problems and prevent any new ones.
At Select One, we help companies recruit the top talent in the nation for open positions, and one of the things we talk to our clients about is the importance of gender equity in the workplace. Here are our five biggest pieces of advice for companies who want to actively prevent gender discrimination within their organization.
Familiarize yourself with the protections that are afforded to all employees regarding sex and gender.
There are several legal protections that employers need to be aware of. These laws apply to a wide range of things, including:
what you can and can’t include in a job description or candidate search
what you can and can’t say or ask in a job interview
rules preventing you from paying men and women differently based on their sex
rules protecting every employee from sexual harassment in the workplace
Gender discrimination is a term that casts a wide net, so to speak, and many different issues are a part of it. In order to prevent gender discrimination from occurring within your company, you have to ensure that you are recruiting and interviewing candidates in a non-discriminatory way, hiring employees without regard to their gender, and creating a safe work environment where all employees are treated with respect and dignity, no matter their gender.
Combat pay inequity within your company.
The gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women are paid, and in the United States, the number is 80%. Across the board, women are paid only 80 cents for every dollar made by men. Understanding the gender pay gap is the responsibility of every entrepreneur, business owner, executive, and manager.
In order to effectively combat pay inequity, you should evaluate your company’s current policies but also its history. Was there ever a time in your company’s history where you hired men at a higher rate of pay than women? Because if so, you could potentially have employees who were on unequal ground at the beginning of their careers with your organization. There are a variety of ways to fix pay inequity problems, but you can do only do so if you discover them.
Communicate to your employees that management will not tolerate sexual harassment or gender discrimination of any kind from any employee.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by federal and state law. Some industries, such as education, even have additional laws that govern how employers are to respond to sexual harassment. The important thing is that you have a rigorous sexual harassment policy in place, which you enforce with consistency and professionalism. You also need to provide training to all of your employees so that they can recognize, respond to, and prevent sexual harassment.
Having a strong sexual harassment policy in place can strengthen your company’s ability to prevent and respond to inappropriate workplace behavior.
Watch for opportunities to build true gender diversity at every level of your company.
Do you have women and men working at every level of your company, or is there a significant stratification? Are many of your lower-level employees women, whereas your executives and upper managers are men? Do you have women serving on your board of directors?
These are important questions to ask as you consider what it means to promote gender diversity. The presence of women in the workplace does not automatically make an employer diverse when it comes to gender, because true diversity only occurs when there are men and women serving at every level of employment within the organization.
Improve policies that promote a healthy workplace culture where women and men are valued equally.
There are so many great things you can do in your company to promote gender equity! If you want to recruit top tier talent that includes women--and you absolutely should want that!--then you need to consider what your company has to offer women. It’s not just about what they have to offer to you, but what makes you stand out as the best possible employer!
Some policies we recommend include:
Excellent PTO policies
Flexible Spending Accounts that can be used for childcare
Workplace flexibility so that employees can work from home as needed
Paid parental leave for both men and women who have new babies or adopt children
What should you do next?
If you want to avoid gender discrimination in the workplace, you have to do a lot more than just say, “we don’t do that here.” You have to think, plan, evaluate, change, and respond to feedback as you receive it.
We would love to help you figure out a strategy that helps you to create a truly equitable workplace! Contact us to talk about your current policies and how they can be improved in order to recruit the best possible talent in the nation for the positions you need to fill.
And don’t forget to check out our free offer, the Employer’s Guide to Pay Gaps and Gender Equity! This informative little guidebook provides you with tips, ideas, and information about the gender pay gap so that you can become a better employer for all of your workers.