Promoting Gender Diversity Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
Inclusivity of women in the workforce has been an ongoing battle for years. There’s plenty of lip service paid to this topic, but the numbers tell us that we’re not putting words into action. Of the 3,000 publicly traded companies in the U.S., women hold just 18% of board positions. I’m encouraged that where I work, in California, that trend will have some help to change for the better. It’s now state law for publicly traded companies headquartered here to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of this year, and at least two by 2021.
But, we need to do better. The number of female Fortune 500 CEOs actually declined by 25% in 2018. Now, only 27 Fortune 500s have female chief executives and the S&P 500 only has 24 female CEOs. This is just the tip of the iceberg, with most major industries (health care, tech, finance) severely lacking in female leadership at all levels.
Neglecting to promote diversity at any level is a mistake businesses cannot afford to make. Harvard Business Review recently conducted research on more than 1,000 companies worldwide, and found that gender diversity is positively correlated with market value and revenue (one caveat: this trend was only found in countries where gender diversity is generally seen as important, such as the United States).
From the Equal Pay Act to discussions around the #MeToo movement, the theme of gender equality is at the forefront of conversations and top of mind for leaders. This is a major step forward for women in the workforce, but we have a long way to go. No one should have to wait until someone speaks up about gender bias at work for their company to take action. Proactivity is absolutely critical to prevent any type of exclusivity. Getting ahead of potential gender bias problems in your business can seem like an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. There are relatively simple changes and considerations that employers can make to level the playing field for women.
Take gender bias out of the hiring process.
From the job description to the actual interview process, there are improvements to be made to ensure inclusiveness for women. Job descriptions should show no signs of unconscious gender bias. Some words that commonly appear in job postings have been proven to discourage women from even applying to certain positions. The same goes for how the interview process is structured. When conducting interviews, companies can eliminate any unconscious bias by ensuring that there is at least one female interviewer when interviewing a female candidate.
Forbes Human Resources Council