Whatever their gender, most people prefer to work for companies that treat all of their employees fairly. Very few people would choose to work in an environment that either filled them with resentment — or made them an unwitting target of that resentment. Inequality has a negative effect not only on working relationships, but ultimately, on company profits. One study, published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, concluded that an office with an equal number of male and female workers could increase revenue by up to 41 percent compared to an all-male or all-female office. That increase can be attributed to diversity in decision making utilizing a wider perspective and a greater ability to attract and retain employees.
Current State of Gender Equality
Despite the benefits, gender parity has proven difficult to achieve. Currently, according to a recent analysis, fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 companies have as many women as men on their boards of directors. However, there are a few companies that have achieved gender equality in their boardrooms. Macy’s, Avon, Xerox, and TravelCenters of America are among them, proving that gender equality is not only possible, but profitable as well. Increasingly, consumers are choosing to purchase products and services from companies whose policies reflect their own personal and social priorities.
One of the first companies to develop corporate guidelines with the goal of achieving gender equality in the workplace was Calvert Investments. In 2004, the company unveiled the Calvert Women’s Principles, which was perhaps the first global code of corporate conduct to focus on the career advancement and financial empowerment of women. Those principles provide a standard that other companies have since utilized. Another online resource assists companies in establishing a baseline, identifying opportunities for improvement, setting goals, and implementing policies and practices that increase gender equality within their corporate culture.
Many countries have passed laws requiring corporations to publish their gender pay gaps. For example, after April 2018, any company in the U.K. that employs more than 250 people will be required to publish employee salaries on a government website. In Australia, Workplace Gender Equality Agency Reports must be filed by all non-public sector organizations with more than 100 staff. It includes information about how many men and women are working full and part time at all levels of the organization.
What You Can Do
Until more companies world-wide have achieved gender parity, there are a few things you can do to determine whether a company you are considering working for has a culture of gender equality.
- Visit the company website. Many websites now provide information about corporate structure as well as brief personal bios of employees at all levels of the organization.
- Research and review the company’s organizational reports. Many types of reports are published online and include information about their board of directors. The more diverse the board, the more diverse the company culture is likely to be.
- Annual reports often contain information regarding executive remuneration, making it possible to compare the salaries of males to those of females.
- Corporate Sustainability Reports often include comparisons of salaries at all levels within an organization
- Contact the company’s human resource department for information on their remuneration policies.
Prospective employees can help speed positive change within corporate culture by demonstrating that gender equality in the workplace is an important consideration to them. Quality of life depends on the quality of human relationships. Companies that cultivate a culture of gender equality can offer not just a way to earn a living, but a better way of life.