Women have been a part of the workforce in a big way since the industrial revolution. From traditionally holding down the fort at home, females now had the additional burden of earning a living alongside her male counterpart. Still, ironically her services came at a lesser cost. The reasons were myriad, their inability to do as much work in the given hours, they were the weaker gender, and the cultural bias of gender inequality.
Sadly, the same bias has continued in modern times. Gender equality in the workplace is a hard and ongoing battle.
The 2018 Global Gender Gap Index finds that women have reached 68 percent parity overall, leaving a gap of 32 percent. It is calculated on the availability of health, education, economic opportunities, and political empowerment.
The latest figures of the Bureau of Labor say that for the first time, women are slightly ahead of the male workforce with 50.4 percent, but the increase in employment figures does not necessarily translate to earning power.
Workplace diversity is one of the main challenges for Human Resources. With the changing socio-political climate, it has become mandatory for organizations to offer equal opportunities to all.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 57% of recruiters have talent acquisition strategies that are designed to attract diverse candidates.
To build a diverse and inclusive workforce, HR practices need to be organically changed.
Women-Centric HR Policies Pay Dividends for Companies
- Change has to happen top-down. Without the support of the leadership and higher up executives in the organization, HR Leader can only pay lip service to inclusion and equality.
- A diverse workforce and a gender-neutral recruitment policy is the need of the hour for any good organization. A company sans such culture will be attracting negative attention and will not be able to leverage its strengths in the market. It has become an essential requirement for a company’s cultural ethos to be diverse and inclusive in its policies to survive in the marketplace.
- Research says that greater gender balance in the leadership of a company leads to higher stock values and higher profitability.
- A global survey by the Peterson Institute for International Economics of 22,000 companies from 91 countries found that organizations with 30 percent women in leadership positions improved profits by 6 percentage points over competitors with fewer or no women in leadership.
- Human Resource management can adopt policies of recruitment that lean towards inclusiveness, adopt a culture that is conducive to the other gender, offer better pay, reasonable hours, and even creche facilities, etc.
- But it is the role of the senior executives and their willingness to support these policies that is more effective. They are the ones who can challenge any discrepancies, question the lacuna, and represent the ethos to investors and customers alike.
- Objectives and policies of metrics with clear time frames can be implemented. Once it is clear that a certain percentage of the workforce needs to be represented, then the Human Resource has a goal to meet.
- Human Resource needs to do a robust analysis of the workforce diversity and plug the gaps found. It can be a recruitment bias, unavailability of the right benefits, or an invisible glass ceiling that leads to people leaving.
- Align your recruitment policy to talent acquisition. It should not run counter to the company’s goals.
Having said that, benefits and rules should be implemented that enable the inclusion of a diverse workforce. Go beyond and above to attract women to the workforce by enforcing health and financial programs that are focused on women.
It has been found that companies with a diverse workforce perform better in terms of revenue and market equity, the rate of retention is greater with people sticking to companies that are more balanced in their Human Resource policies.