Balancing the Scales: Why Gender Equity is Essential for Improving Australian Businesses

Gender equity in Australia has been a hot topic in the media for the past few years, and shows no sign of slowing down. From the #metoo and #timesup movements to debates about pay parity, there is no shortage of discussion around the topic.

But what does gender equity actually mean? And why should businesses be striving for it? This article will explore the benefits of gender equity for Australian businesses and discuss how we can work towards achieving it.

What is gender equity?

Simply put, gender equity is the idea that everyone should be treated fairly, regardless of their gender. This includes equal pay for equal work, equal career opportunity and access to resources, and the ability to express one’s gender in the workplace without fear of discrimination or violence.

It also means the inclusion of women in economic participation, management and decision-making areas in business, as well as valuing differences in behaviours, aspirations and individual needs. Gender equality benefits everyone. And perhaps most importantly, it’s allowing everyone to have a voice of equal worth.

Australia has made great strides towards achieving gender equity in recent years. However, there is still so much work to be done. Gender bias is pervasive in the workplace, creating inequalities at every stage. But Australian businesses can play a role in achieving gender equity by implementing policies and practices that promote equality and diversity, and cultivate psychologically safe workplace environments for their employees.

It’s a given that gender equity is a positive movement for workers, especially women, but there are also myriad positive outcomes for businesses that champion gender equity too.

Why is gender equity significant for businesses?

First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. Women in the workplace should be afforded the same opportunities as men, and businesses that achieve gender equity are more likely to be successful and economically prosperous in the long run. Because not only does gender inequality negatively impact the lives of both women and men, but the inequality between genders also stunts economic growth and hinders business development.

Women represent a large and increasingly expanding portion of the workforce. Businesses that can create a supportive environment for women will be more competitive in the future. Gender equity can also improve employee acquisition and retention by helping companies to attract and retain top talent.

Finally, achieving gender equity can help reduce discrimination and harassment in the workplace and decrease the perpetuating cycle of gendered violence. While workplace gender equity is certainly not a silver bullet for the entire issue, when everyone is on a level playing field, it’s much easier to identify and address problems and put a stop to them sooner.

What are some ways to achieve gender equity in the workplace?

There are a few ways businesses can achieve gender equity in the workplace. One way is to have flexible work arrangements, which can help mothers and caregivers to juggle their work and family commitments. This could include things like part-time work, job sharing, working from home, and flexible hours. Businesses can also promote gender diversity in their leadership ranks. This can help change the perception that leadership is a role for men only and send a message that diverse viewpoints are welcomed and valued. Finally, businesses can provide training and development opportunities for their employees, which can help to boost the careers of women and men equally.

What are the benefits of gender equity in the workplace?

Benefits of gender equity in the workplace include increased profits, increased innovation and creativity, and increased employee satisfaction. When businesses make an effort to achieve gender equity, they create a working environment that is fair and inclusive for everyone. This benefits not only women but also men, who can take on more flexible roles without facing social stigma.

For example, in a study by Ernst & Young, it was found that “firms with 30 percent women leadership could expect a 15 percent boost to profitability”, while a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that companies with at least 30 percent female board directors averaged a six percent return on assets higher than those with fewer or no female directors.

And a study by Catalyst found that organisations with the highest representation of women in top management achieved 35 percent higher profitability than their peers. So it’s clear that gender equity has some profound benefits for businesses, not just those they employ.

Because when businesses achieve gender equity, it not only benefits the employees, but also the business as a whole. There are many ways to achieve gender equity in the workplace, and the benefits are vast. Businesses that make an effort to create a gender equitable workplace see increases in productivity, innovation, and creativity. They also see decreases in staff turnover and absenteeism.

How can businesses get started with achieving gender equity?

We need to begin by educating those around us in a supportive way, without being too afraid to speak up when we need to. For those in senior management, this means creating a company culture and environment where diversity is welcomed, and gender equity is a given.

A fundamental understanding is that it’s not just gender equity alone that can create this ideal workplace. Diversity and inclusion are equally essential factors, and each element relies on the other to cultivate growth and improvement.

For a starting point in achieving this type of growth, make sure your workplace culture is supportive and welcoming of women. This includes providing equal opportunities for training, development and promotion, as well as offering flexible working arrangements. In addition, businesses can ensure that their policies and practices reflect gender equity.

For example, they can develop targets for the number of women in leadership positions and track hiring, promotion and pay rates to identify any disparities. By taking these steps, businesses can create a more inclusive environment that benefits everyone.

Gender equity won’t happen overnight

However, trying to achieve gender equity is not without its challenges. There are many barriers in place, which is why we are still not as close to achieving gender equity in Australian businesses as we’d like. One of the main issues is the danger of unconscious bias. When we don’t know where our bias leans towards, we can’t assess whether it’s socially and morally correct, so we can’t make necessary adjustments.

Luckily, bias isn’t set in stone. We are very capable of changing our biases, but we first need to be able to look at ourselves and recognise them first. Unfortunately, there has been a real lean towards seeing gender equity and diversity as a ‘tick the box’ exercise, which means numerous organisations are missing that chance to shine the light on any pre-existing bias.

Achieving gender equity will allow for a sizable portion of your workforce to finally feel recognised and respected. It will bring about a feeling of ease and safety because women will no longer feel pressured to perform and be upheld to invisible higher standards than their male counterparts. Gender equity means women will know they matter, and that they have a voice that can and will be heard. And we believe that’s always worth striving for.

Whether you’re a job-seeker looking to join a progressive organisation that is working towards reaching gender equity, or you’re an employer keen to fill your candidate pool with highly skilled women in tech and leadership positions, contact us today to see how we can support you.

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