For women, the American workplace still remains fraught with inequality. Issues like pay disparity, poor maternityleave policies, sexual harassment and unconscious bias are among the various disadvantages preventing women from succeeding and thriving at work.
3 Reasons Why Gender Equality is an ‘Everyone’ Issue
It’s 2017, but the gender-equality conversation continues, with women still facing obstacles in the workplace. Just last week, the tech industry highlighted the major thought divides that persist, when Google fired a senior software engineer.
The engineer had sent a 3,300-word document to the company’s internal networks, slamming diversity initiatives and noting his personal view that women aren’t equally represented in leadership because of “biological causes.” He said men have a higher drive for status than women do.
And in July, a SurveyMonkey poll — not limited just to the tech world — found that more than half (58 percent) of men surveyed said there were no more obstacles for women in the workplace. Sixty percent of women, however, said they do exist.
Michelle Vitus, founder and CEO of Slate Advisers, a career transition and advisory firm based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has experienced the obstacles confronting women for herself. “When I was a junior employee at a Fortune 500 company, I had an executive mentor,” she recalled, via email.
“I heard people ask, ‘What did she [meaning Vitus herself] do to get him to become her mentor?’ If I had been a guy, people would have assumed that he was my mentor because I was smart and ambitious.”
The message from Vitus’s experience is clear: The best way to combat sexism and inequality is by moving the conversation forward and highlighting why gender equality is important for everyone, not just women.
Here’s why gender equality is an everyone issue and how to achieve it:
Gender-diverse companies perform better.
The truth is out — companies that embrace gender diversity perform better than those that don’t. A McKinsey January 2015 report found that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform companies rated in the bottom quartile of diversity.
As the CEO of DDI, a leadership solutions company based out of Pittsburgh, Penn., Tacy Byham says she’s personally benefited from such environments. “Gender diversity among leadership unleashes the collective genius of the organization,” she wrote via email. “It leverages a broader perspective, which helps you to better understand your potential market, weed out bad ideas and develop new, innovative ideas.”
To encourage its female employees to learn leadership skills and pursue high-ranking roles, DDI provides them with their own leadership-development program. “Our program focuses on helping early and mid-career women step up to broader leadership responsibilities,” said Byham.
However, the program still involves men, showing them how they can be allies in the workplace. “They become critical partners to help overcome the unique challenges facing women,” Byham continued. “We do this to make sure that the men who are in leadership positions set an example [to show] that gender equality is a top business priority.”
When employers provide leadership opportunities to women and men alike, they motivate men to get involved as supportive partners in equal opportunity.
Men benefit, as well.