Gender diversity in the workplace

Why an equal playing field at work is good for business

At Woobe, we encourage, support, and promote women into all roles, at all levels of employment. Here, we take a closer look at what workplace equality means for both sexes, and how your business can benefit from becoming more gender diverse.

What is gender diversity at work?

‘Gender diversity at work’ is just a fancy way of talking about the equal representation and treatment of men and women in the workplace – whether that’s at a global company, a small family-owned business, a charity, or a government organisation. 

Not only does gender diversity mean that men and women should be hired at a similar and consistent rate, true gender diversity would see both sexes paid equally, afforded the same working conditions and opportunities, and with equal chances of both career progression and promotion. It would also see as many women as men occupying higher positions and heading up companies.

If your workplace is gender diverse, you will be hired for a role, and enjoy opportunities within it, that are not affected or limited by your sex. 

Are all companies in the UK gender diverse?

This is the ideal, but sadly, it isn’t always the case. Despite major steps forward in recent decades, many sectors – like computing, engineering, medicine, and science – are still male dominated. A gender pay gap also still exists that experts now warn may take 100 years to close completely, with women continuing to bear the brunt of caring for young children and elderly relatives, seeing them fall behind their male counterparts through gaps in employment, and sometimes prevented from working altogether, due to the prohibitively high cost of quality childcare.

Why is gender diversity in the workplace important?

Gender diversity is not just a fashionable bandwagon for companies to leap on, in order to strengthen their ethical credentials. Ensuring parity of the sexes in the modern workplace offers a range of tangible benefits for businesses that companies would be unwise to ignore. Gender inequality in the workplace is also holding back the UK economy from the growth it is capable of. 

Here is a rundown of the benefits your company could enjoy by becoming more gender diverse. 

Increased productivity

By far the most persuasive argument for gender diversity in the workplace is that it’s been proven to help companies achieve above average profitability. 

According to research conducted in 2015 by the McKinsey Global Institute, advancing women’s equality in the workplace could add $12 trillion to global growth by 2025. This is because women account for half the world’s working-age population, and if they’re unable to achieve their full economic potential, the global economy cannot fail to suffer, making gender diversity an important economic issue, as well as a moral and social concern. 

A wider talent pool

If you’re not doing everything you can to encourage women to join your workforce, you’re missing out on the talents, skills, and experience of half the population! Tapping into the vast range of skills that women have to offer in the workplace can make a huge difference to the success of your company and will ultimately increase your revenue in the long term. 

Remember – women are not asking for preferential treatment when it comes to hiring, just a fair and level playing field, where gender is irrelevant and capacity to excel and achieve their full potential within a role is paramount. 

A wider range of perspectives

Men and women often have very different life experiences, resulting in very different points of view (though that’s not to say there isn’t shared experience, too). Having an equal balance of both genders on your team means that your business can benefit from the full spectrum of perspectives. This can help your company identify and seize new opportunities and be more innovative and creative in its approaches. It can also help you find a more balanced and harmonious way of working that challenges gender stereotypes, and the ‘traditional’ way of doing things. 

Better collaboration

Research has shown that women are generally better at reading non-verbal cues than men, and that groups which include a greater ratio of women than men are generally better at taking turns when speaking, allowing everyone to contribute to the conversation, and to feel valued and heard. 

Not only are these communication and collaboration skills useful for productive face-to-face meetings, they also translate into helping employees use modern business tools like video conferencing more effectively, start conversations on social media, and share feedback in a constructive way. 

Better employee engagement and retention 

Staff retention can be a costly and time consuming issue for businesses, who pay thousands of pounds to recruit and train staff, only for them to leave after a short period, in search of better conditions, pay, or prospects. Having an inclusive culture in your workplace is known to boost staff morale, especially amongst women, who feel more valued and can see pathways to progression and promotion that encourage them to stay with a company in the long-term. 

A better reflection of your customers

Your customers are likely to come from all walks of life, and unless you sell a very gender specific product or service, it’s likely that the genders are fairly equally balanced across your audience. To engage and communicate effectively with the women you sell to, you also need women on your teams, who understand their perspective and pain points. 

A workforce that includes an equal ratio of men and women is better equipped to create advertising campaigns and customer experiences that appeal to this highly potent market, rich in opportunities. 

A great reputation 

Although gender diversity should not be viewed as a fashionable cause, achieving greater equality for both sexes in your workplace will certainly make you a more popular and well-respected employer, firstly – with top talent looking for an inclusive work environment, and secondly – with clients who increasingly look to do business with companies that have strong ethical credentials, and display positive and forward-thinking values. 

Building a more gender diverse workplace is a win / win for both employers and their staff, creating happier, more productive employees who build better relationships with companies in the long term, saving money on high staff turnover.

If you’re convinced that gender equality is the way forward for your business, check out our follow up to this article – ‘How to build a more gender diverse business, in 2021’

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