Gender Equality at Work

The glass ceiling hasn’t been shattered. There has been impact, yes, and things are better but it’s still not enough.

International Women’s Day (IWD) was recently celebrated around the world on March 8, 2016. The day celebrates the achievements of women socially, culturally, economically and politically. This day also brings awareness to areas of world where women are still marginalized, where their very existence puts their lives at risk.

The United Nations surmises that one in three women around the world will experience violence during her lifetime. That counts in the Western world, too.

According to voices of women today and countless studies, there is still much work to be done to achieve gender equality, particularly at work. The gender-pay gap is a central issue of third wave feminism, which women have been campaigning to receive for decades.

Here are the facts about women and the wage gap, from Glassdoor:

1. It’s real. Glassdoor analyzed hundreds of thousands of salaries anonymously shared on their site within five countries: the UK, the US, Germany, France and Australia. On average, in every country Glassdoor looked at, men earned more than women. The fact remained the same even when controls for individualized characteristics were added, such as company, job title and industry. Meaning no apples to oranges comparisons were made.

Gender Pay Gap

2. In the US, men earn a 24.1 percent higher base pay than women on average. That’s 76 cents per dollar for women to men. Glassdoor believes “the single biggest cause of the gender pay gap is occupation and industry sorting of men and women into jobs that pay differently throughout the economy.” In the United States, that sorting explains 54 percent of the pay gap. The rest remains unexplained by variables other than gender.

Women make up half of the workforce in the US but aren’t given the equal recognition they deserve. It’s time for corporations and coworkers to work together to fix this issue.

Employers Need to Challenge and Change Workplace Culture for Women

Change starts in the workplace with new policies and perspectives, but it’s also necessary to challenge the ideas of education standards for women in countries where they are marginalized. Try these ideas to evoke change in your company:

1. Create a policy for salary transparency. Such a policy shows prospective female employees that their rights and contributions are a valuable, recognized asset to the company. It’s a competitive factor for all employees considering working for any organization.

The Society for Human Resource Management discusses why companies should make their pay public, citing that it helps with recruitment and employee trust. “People tend to have a higher degree of trust in an organization that is transparent,” says CEO Dane Atkinson, who started the business analytics company SumAll in 2011.

Transparency is important for gender equality and employer-employee trust. A policy for salary transparency benefits everyone.

2. Implement innovative family-centric, female-empowering policies that challenge the rest of the world. Both women and men don’t get the family leave and consideration they deserve because work-balance in the Western world, especially the US, is virtually non-existent. In fact, it’s down right ridiculous.

The US is one of the few countries in world that doesn’t have a national paid leave policy. Last year, The US Department of Labor wrote a check for $1.55 million and decided it’d finally look into developing and implementing paid-leave policies across the country.

However, the Today show compared paid-leave policies globally. It turns out that generous maternity leave packages are a standard in many countries. Just not in the US.

Bulgaria gives nearly 60 weeks of maternity leave with 90 percent of a woman’s salary paid to her while away.

Norway gives women their full pay and 35 weeks of maternity leave. Plus, Norwegian families with newborns get a new baby care package that includes a snowsuit and bedding.

In Japan, fathers can spend time at home with their family for 52 weeks with nearly 60 percent of his salary paid to him during that time period.

In the US, only 13 percent of employees have the option of family paid-leave, and only 33 percent of new moms actually take formal time off from work.

Paid Family Leave

Oh, but the law protects a parent’s job for up to 12 weeks in the US. What kind of message does that send to women employees, and to the rest of the world?

Something has to change. When more corporations develop such innovative policies, the rest of the nation and world has to follow suit.

3. Join the Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment. It’s a global platform that encourages learning, collaboration and innovation to accelerate women’s empowerment economically. Bonus: It’s free, and it expands your business connections worldwide.

At the 2013 launch of this venture, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggested that by “investing in women’s economic empowerment” one carves a straight path to gender equality, further working to eliminate poverty and encourage economic growth for all.

The UN Secretary-General cites studies that when others work to remove barriers to employment, education and entrepreneurship for all, “new sources of economic growth” are created. It makes more sense to utilize everyone’s skills to the fullest. When each gender is given equal opportunity to contribute, “our communities and nations benefit through social cohesion, economic security, peace and prosperity,” says Ki-moon.

4. Support female entrepreneurs in areas of the world where women have less freedom and economic rights. The United Nations Foundation says that if “barriers to female labor force participation were reduced, the Gross Domestic Product of a country like Japan would grow 16 percent.” Other developing nations have seen major gains contributed to economic growth and social development by making such investments in women. In all nations that have implemented policies to support women in the labor force, the amount of saving increases and spending focuses more on healthcare, education and food sources as women have a say in household income.

The US alone has seen an 11 percent increase in economic growth ($3.5 trillion) due to more participation by women over the course of 40 years.

US Economic Growth
Organizations like 10,000 Women, which was started by Goldman Sachs in 2008, help underrepresented women entrepreneurs and their businesses thrive. The organization strives to “provide business management and education to female entrepreneurs in emerging markets.” Its goal was originally to help 10,000 female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals within five years. Needless to say, the initiative was successful and is still going strong.

5. Fund education for women in the arts and sciences around the world. Support existing scholarship endeavors or create your own scholarship. Donate to funds for educational aid programs like the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), which chooses to fund the education of five women scientists from the least economically developed countries every year.

Women are a vital and under-utilized resource in the developing world. Those who manage to win scholarships and overcome the odds are often recognized for personal achievements in the field.

It’s time to challenge the culture in the workplace for women. There are rights that both women and men don’t have access to in a supposedly advanced country like the United States.

The third wave of feminism is washing over the globe, and it’s about humanism. It’s time to take a battering ram to the glass ceiling, and really question the culture. Effect policies and change to make a better workplace environment for everyone.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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