Improving Diversity: Women in the Workplace


Becoming champions of diversity can be rewarding for your company’s bottom line. Here’s why workplace diversity matters and how to improve the experiences of women in the workplace.

Women in the Workplace in South Africa

You may be surprised to learn that many women in South Africa must still fight to be taken seriously at work, so that they aren’t relegated to a tea-making, note-taking role. Gender diversity and equality are an important part of creating more inclusive workplaces. While BBB-EE acts as a motivator to hire a female employee, the gender gap is stark in our country.

Gender parity shows that only a third of management roles are currently occupied by South African women, and the gender pay gap stands at 23-35%. That means women get paid up to 35% less in the same role as men. It takes more than a healthy representation of women in your workplace to achieve true diversity.

What is Workplace Diversity?

Workplace diversity starts with hiring a diverse range of individuals with varying abilities, ethnicities, genders, religions, languages, and cultures. It can mean employing women of colour or white women for executive positions. It can also mean hiring people who speak differently than you, who believe something else, or who come from another culture.

In South Africa, the focus of diversity in the workplace can easily lean towards skin colour and race. But the true focus of BBB-EE is empowering the disempowered and previously disadvantaged, including black employees and women of color, Asian women, white women, people with disabilities, and other marginalised people groups. It goes beyond merely hiring fairly towards creating inclusive, diverse workspaces where every employee can flourish.

Why is Improving the Workplace for Women Important?

The benefits of diversity in the workplace have been studied, and there are many. For example, diverse executive boards were shown to deliver greater returns in a study by McKinsey & Company. This alone should motivate every senior leader to start working to improve workplace cultures today.

Other benefits include solving problems by gaining more perspectives, more accurate pricing decisions, and better results. With that said, here are some ways you can improve gender equality in your workplace, according to a panel of experts.



Steps to Improving the Workplace Experiences of Women in Your Organisation

1. Banish the Gender Pay Gap

When open, transparent conversations are welcomed regarding salaries and wages, it can nullify unintentional gender discrimination when it comes to salary bias. Deserving employees should be paid a fair salary, no matter what their gender. But many cultures consider talking about money a “taboo”.

You can encourage transparency by coaching hiring managers to be open and upfront about what workers earn and why. That way, you can start addressing this issue in your hiring interviews, long before promotions come. Since women are less likely to negotiate their salary than men, creating fair, equal waging practices is up to the employer.

2. Support Leadership Development in Women

In a study by Gartner and Capital Analytics at Sun Microsystems, it was found that an organizational culture of mentorship influenced promotions. Manager-level positions were often given to those who had been mentored, and those who were mentored were more likely to be promoted. Interestingly, mentorship also proved to help close the gender pay disparity.

You can cultivate female leaders for senior positions in your organisation by assigning them to mentors and offering leadership training programs. Having more senior-level women in your organisation is sure to benefit you, because women often score higher in leadership skills. These skills can include positive influence on company culture and employee wellbeing, high integrity, resilience, and taking initiative.

Part of supporting women in leadership is providing equal opportunity to all in your commitment to gender diversity. A truly inclusive culture provides leadership opportunities to all, while fighting gender bias and levelling the playing field for talented women.

3. Empower Mothers and Parents

Sometimes, employers assume that mothers or parents don’t want to work as senior managers or in senior positions. This is often not the case, and an unconscious bias can disadvantage mothers in these situations.

Parents can often experience discrimination in how their parental leave is handled by the company. Your organisation can either advance diversity or contribute to biases based on how they handle parental leave and how they support parenting employees. How can it be improved? By offering men just as much time off as women.

This may sound counterproductive, but research says there is no measurable effect on profitability. A generous and balanced parental leave policy inevitably leads to better job satisfaction scores, according to the Australian Government.

Additionally, it will encourage fathers to take the same amount of leave, reducing the perspective that women are “taking a break” from work for the sake of their family. Or that they are less serious about their job.

4. Make More Inclusive Hiring Decisions

Inclusivity and diversity begin before hiring, during your hiring process. Are your hiring practices inclusive? Do they welcome people from any sexual orientation, people of color, those with disabilities, or people from different religious and cultural backgrounds? Has your hiring team undergone unconscious bias training to make your hiring strategy more fair and inclusive?

As experts in the hiring process, we can help you become more inclusive from the get-go. Let us help you develop and implement a strategy that leads to hiring top performers 90% of the time. As an added benefit, your talent pool will be based on fair, accurate practices.

We can help you identify the best candidate for the job without discrimination. Find out how Mint Kulca can bring an inclusive culture to your hiring practices today.

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