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Increasing Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Posted by EHS Insight Staff on March 16, 2018 at 2:16 PM

A recent article in Business Day discusses how gender diversity can make for a dynamic workplace.

There are some who believe that gender equality is a discussion that’s no longer relevant in the modern world—that women have just as many rights and privileges as men. But it remains a popular and controversial topic.

Especially in the business world.

Two researchers, Ronald Burke and Susan Vinnicombe, shed some light on the issue of gender diversity.

According to the article in Business Day, less than 20% of business directors are female. Those numbers were pulled both from international and local sources.

In today’s society, those kinds of numbers don’t go unnoticed. Policymakers, the media, and the public are all quick to share their thoughts on the matter. The gender diversity of boards and top management continue to gain this attention.

Since the early 2000’s, supporters of gender diversity have given several reasons why more women in top management positions should be encouraged.

Researchers reported that women had a more collaborative leadership style than men. They create open communication channels and foster a healthy environment for their employees. Women also bring with them a fresh perspective to boardroom and workplace discussions.

But women continue to face challenges that make it difficult for them to advance their careers. They must overcome several obstacles to reach top management levels. Some of which include work-life balance issues, discrimination in the workplace, and prejudice based on their gender.

Researchers have also noted that women also lack access to corporate networks to advance their careers. Women seem to agree, arguing how difficult it is to access male-dominated networks, boards, and committees.

Some researchers have brought up the term homosociality, which refers to the concept that individuals tend to associate with others who are most like themselves. They say that this is one of the reasons why it is difficult for women to be accepted for an open position that is predominantly surrounded by, and often chosen by, other men.

Both men and women should try to avoid homosocial networks. Instead, they should engage with directors from both sexes in order to balance their strengths and learn from each other.

So how can we overcome these issues in our modern, business society?

Nomination committees should take note of these concepts and issues. They should make an effort to source promising women candidates and offer them support.

Businesses should also review their policies for maternity leave and parenting. Men should also be encouraged to take advantage of family and parenting benefits. Household responsibilities should be shared between both parents.

When men and women are both allowed time off for parenting, both create a positive impact on their homes. And both have the time and opportunity to advance their careers with the other one sharing responsibilities at home.

Legislation is another option to encourage and advance gender diversity in the workplace. Women should have equal access to the same jobs and salaries as men. And while this has come a long way in the last several decades, there is still opportunity for improvement.

Gender diversity can benefit the workplace in many ways. Men and women both have their unique talents and strengths. By working together, a diverse group can achieve so much more. Businesses should take a closer look at their boards and top management staff. How well do they work together? Is there room for improvement? What can gender diversity help your company achieve?

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