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Today, on International Women’s Day, everyone around the globe is celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But this day is not just about celebrating how far we’ve come, it’s also about how we can all act together to accelerate gender equality going forward.
For this year’s International Women’s Day, the theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’, which is particularly relevant given the current global pandemic. In fact, a recent McKinsey report highlighted that the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe has had a regressive effect on gender equality. Women’s jobs are found to be 1.8 times more vulnerable to the crisis than men’s jobs. Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of jobs losses.
Women have been most affected because they are generally overrepresented in the industries hit hardest by the pandemic and global recession, such as hospitality, retail, childcare and education.On top of that, this pandemic has significantly increased the burden of unpaid care, which is disproportionately carried by women. These factors combined mean that women’s employment is dropping faster than average across the globe. With these issues in mind, Felicity Empson, human resources director at Randstad argues, that it’s more important than ever before for organisations to think about how to combat this backwards step in terms of gender equality in the workplace.
Lead by Felicity, Madeline Hill, general manager of D&I and Nick Pesch, CEO, Randstad continues to strive to become a fully inclusive workplace, to break down the barriers in front of many people, particularly women, who may find themselves held back by archaic gender inequality which unfortunately remains in so many parts of Australia’s workforce.
Randstad does this, not just because gender equality is the future, but because it also recognises that diversity also acts to create opportunity, innovation, promotes better productivity and even improves a company’s bottom line. And this is a theme which not only runs deep within Randstad but also importantly extends outwards to its clients and candidates.
how Randstad addresses gender inequality in the workplace
With a large female workforce (65%) and female dominance in managerial roles (over 50%), Randstad sends a strong message that it supports all of its people on International Women’s Day.“At randstad we know that diversity in all of its forms, including gender diversity, brings lots of benefits,” Felicity says. “Increased job satisfaction, innovation, productivity which leads to better bottom line results. And we know that a diverse workforce is better for our people and also better for our business,” she says.
One of the steps that Randstad has recently taken in terms of gender equality is an annual salary review, in which the HR team did some deeper analysis around the business’s pay gap, Felicity explained. “Our HR worked with all of our senior leaders to really educate and encourage anyone to challenge any gender pay gaps.” Now, Felicity explains, Randstad has more programs in place than ever before to support women in work. These programs proudly go above and beyond any obligation the business may have.
“We have just launched our parent leave transition program, which is available to all parents, not just women. We have flexible working, we have paid domestic violence leave, emergency accommodation support available and our health & wellbeing program which supports individuals,” she says. And, as Felicity points out, Randstad hasn’t just committed to gender equality from a D&I perspective, it’s ingrained much deeper in the business. Randstad also makes sure gender diversity is at the forefront when thinking about its leadership programs, succession planning, recruitment policies and even internal career progression.
how to create a gender diverse workplace
As Randstad CEO and Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Pay Gap Ambassador, Nick is very aware of the basic steps organisations need to take in order to improve their workplace gender balance.
He summarises by pointing out three very simple steps that all businesses should take to improve their position on equality and inclusion.
- Make the commitment
- Understand your current position in terms of gender equality
- Put policies and measures in place to close that gap
“The first thing you need to do is get visibility across it. You need to understand your current state and look at how to close that gap if there is one. But most of all there needs to be a commitment to pay equity in the organisation,” Nick says. D&I general manager Madeline agrees but goes on to highlight that there is much much more which needs to be addressed going forward. It is certainly valuable for businesses to make the commitment to pay equity within their organisation, but in terms of what they can do to support women in the workplace, the discussion needs to be company-wide, she says. “All stakeholders need to be involved in the discussion and together progress the gender equality discussion,” Madeline says.
And she explains the four ways organisations can drive the equality discussion;
- Implementing flexible working practices is particularly important in a post-covid19 world as workers move to a hybrid working environment or begin a transition back into the office.
- Female leadership programs are very important if they don’t exist or if women are underrepresented in management positions.
- It’s also vital for all businesses to consciously address their gender pay gap. Not least because the cost of resources to do that is minimal versus what you would gain by having a gender diverse workforce.
- And lastly, gender inclusive recruitment is also very valuable. From practices embedded from pipeline, to job advertisements, unconscious bias training and even interview panel diversity. It all needs to be addressed.
benefits of gender diversity
Beyond ethics, there are several positive outcomes of organisations having a diverse workplace, and at the top of the list is the reality that gender diversity gives organisations a significant commercial benefit. In fact a McKinsey report back in 2015 showed that advancing women’s equality in the workplace would add a further $12 trillion to the global economy. “The bottom line is that there is a commercial reality for those companies which have a D&I workforce - they have better bottom line results, longevity, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity,” Madeline says. “And that significant commercial benefit is so important for companies looking at addressing how to get women back into the workplace following Covid-19.”
The commercial element is so important, Felicity agrees while she goes on to point out that we’re also humans who thrive off fresh and engaging ideas. Organisations benefit from creating an environment that its workers are proud and happy to be a part of. “At Randstad, as a business we say that we’re human forward about working with different people and fresh ideas. It’s energising and engaging and can create a very positive experience for everyone [to have a diverse workforce],” she says.
bridging the gap
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, workplace diversity is taking the world by storm. Now, more than ever, in a post-covid19 world, organisations need to follow in the footsteps of forward-thinking companies such as Randstad and prioritise D&I initiatives, invest in resources and take the steps needed to bridge the gap between our male and female workforces.
Gender equality in the workplace is the future. Because it doesn’t just make good financial and business sense to address the issue, it’s also the right thing to do for society.
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