With only 24% participation of Indian women in the workforce, the gender bias is all set to overpower every aspect of the work industry. The pay gap has reached 16.1% and workforce flexibility for women is ever decreasing. Pregnancy and childbirth further weigh women down. Many times a woman won’t be hired in a certain position just because the position involves traveling, interacting with stakeholders, and staying back in office if need be.
While all this may sound unusual and not-true, it is practiced in professional work settings, way too often. So, what can HRs do to reduce the gender bias gap?
Let’s find out.
Women in Managerial Positions
Women are not widely accepted in a managerial position. There are many reasons behind the unacceptability but the one that tops the list would have to be – it is hard for everyone to work for a woman. Even women are not comfortable in reporting to a woman.
In her book lean in, Sheryl Sandberg talks about gender bias in the workplace and in every aspect of her life. She talks about her journey and the reasons that stop women from taking a managerial position. And it is interesting to note that unwillingness is one of these reasons.
Yes, many women don’t reach a managerial position because they don’t want to. They themselves think that they are not capable enough. Hence, most women will not even apply for the position even after they have been given a chance.
It is depressing the biggest contributor to this gap is because we don’t have enough women in managerial roles. The only way to actually wipe out gender bias in the workplace is to have more women in higher roles and getting used to the idea. There should be someone at the top to motivate other women to attain a higher post at the workplace.
The Motherhood Penance
The historical factor of gender bias at the workplace – lack of proper education – is decreasing. But, motherhood penance is not. The professional world still punishes women for their ability to have children and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Sheryl Sandberg has pointed out this fact too many times in her book and live talks. The laws and rules for pregnant women are not flexible enough and we can’t blame the government or society for everything. HR managers can generate these policies in-house.
For instance, a pregnant woman should have a reserved parking spot nearest to the office door. Further, it should be okay to bring your baby to work. A small creche can be developed and managed at the workplace to support working mothers.
Most couples want children and only women have the capability of having children. But, women also want to build a career. Combining these both and mitigating the price women pay for having children is the way to workplace gender equality.
However, although motherhood is a serious roadblock, women still suffer gender bias at the workplace with or without children. Here’s how HR managers can help in the situation.
What HRs Can Do To Mitigate Gender Bias
1. Support Maternity and Paternity Leave
It is a common belief that maternity leave is supported in every organization and paternity leave is not. However, even maternity leave is often frowned upon. If a woman is expecting and she changes the job, most people are less likely to hire her because of the leaves that she will be taking. If she is already working in an organization, managers overlook the situation and work-from-home is denied.
Some policies and laws can be made in-house to support maternity leave. For instance, a certain number of work-from-home opportunities can be given to expecting mothers. Or simply a comfortable work environment can be offered with proper seating and surroundings.
The paternity leave is also important. For women to excel in their career, they need support from family. If men won’t get paternity leave when their child is born, how will they support their families?
Usually, we have a week of paternity leave because it is again a common belief that only women are responsible for the child. Eliminating this belief, HRs can offer a longer leave to men on the birth of their child.
2. Ensure Fair Promotions
Ensure that promotions are done based on role, department, experience, work-report, efficiency, and not gender. There is no reason for holding women back when they can perform equally well. HR managers should take a step to involve and encourage women in promotion-process.
3. Re-Evaluate Your Hiring Process
While interviewing candidates, it is suggested to consider both male and female counterparts equally. It is also a good habit to involve mixed gender interviewers on the committee to promote equality and fair review.
4. Minimize Pay Gap
This is solely HRs responsibility to minimize the pay gap inside an organization. It is known that a male counterpart is likely to get a higher pay if he asks for it. The issue is that females themselves don’t ask for fair pay at the first place and then HR managers try their best to reduce the quoted salary. To reduce the pay gap, equal pay should be offered to employees in similar positions.
5. Minimize Performance-Pay Gap
Once you have completed your part to reduce the pay gap, you should dig deeper and look for the performance-pay gap.
Now, what is this?
It is the gap between an employee’s performance and relevant pay. If a person is performing well and not getting enough pay according to that, this is not justified. On the other hand, if a person is getting a good pay but still not performing well, that is a waste of resources.
So, HRs need to drill down further to minimize the performance-pay gap.
Gender Equality Is Essential For Everyone
It is not only about the laws and your brand image but also gender equality will promote a healthy workplace environment for future generations. It is about having a growth in which both men and women are equal contributors. By having more women in your team, you can, in fact, increase your productivity and creativity. Hence, hire more women and contribute to gender equality.