Ask a roomful of people what workplace equality means to them and you’ll receive a variety of answers depending on their circumstances – from equal pay, to access to affordable childcare. Unfortunately many employers do not have these issues in hand or place enough value on solving them. Whatever the case, the first step to creating a more gender equal workplace is to have a good understanding of what that should encompass and how best to implement and create change.
Creating a workplace environment where men and women want to work, are happy in their work and feel valued and are compensated fairly is the key to a strong business.
A good place to start is with workplace flexibility. The ultimate goal is not only to implement a more female friendly environment, but to create an equal benefits environment for all to take advantage of eg so men can bear equal responsibility for childcare needs.
Claudia Goldman, a Harvard Economics Professor finds one way women earn less money than men is when they turn down higher-paying jobs because those jobs come with more demanding or less predictable hours ie they choose temporal flexibility over salary. Implementing policies that allow both women and men to work from home either all or at least part of the time takes the pressure of women.
Employers should establish core business hours and allow employees to pick their own schedules as long as everyone is there for the core business hours or delivers.
Some jobs however, do not easily allow for temporal flexibility. Jobs like surgeons or tax accountants have long and non flexible hours. However this does not mean that even those types of jobs cannot have some temporal flexibility worked into them, such as building a schedule and structure that allows for people to leave work in case of emergencies.
Instill these practices and you’ll attract and retain top female talent.