Level up on gender equality: give your employees a voice   

Axel Schiphof

Level up on gender equality: give your employees a voice

Popularized in Hollywood and amplified through social media, the #MeToo Movement demonstrated the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion are increasingly on the agendas of organizations around the world. But the latest results from the 4th Global Employee Engagement Index research show that your organization needs to level up to end gender inequality.

Hey look, it’s another corporate man talking about gender inequality. Yes, guilty as charged. Still, hear me out because the more we all push back on gender inequality, the sooner we’ll get rid of it entirely.

I dream of a time when women across all societies no longer need to protest inequality. I want to see this happen in our life time, too. 

Why aren’t we there yet? And how do we get there faster?

With every male-only boardroom I encounter, and with every survey presentation I prepare in which women report poorer work experiences than men, I am reminded repeatedly that proactive steps in the workplace are needed now more than ever before.

Aside from your organization’s moral obligation to take care of its people, there’s a measurable and practical reason to do so. Simply put: the percentage of women in your organization equals the percentage of employees not empowered to work as successfully as the rest. That’s throwing talent out the window.

And while I get excited every time a client tells me about their diversity and inclusion efforts, we still have a long way to go – something we unfortunately see confirmed by research data from the upcoming 4th edition of the Global Employee Engagement Index (GEEI).

Engaged does not mean equal

The latest report (publication date TBA) shows some interesting similarities and differences between men and women in the workplace. Let’s start with the positive: 72% of both men and women reported being engaged in their work. Any differences in employee engagement are thus influenced other factors (such as geography, age, industry, etc.) as opposed to gender.

But (there’s always a but). That’s not to say that men and women experience the workplace in the same way. The well-documented gender pay gap was also confirmed in our data. The GEEI – which provides an independent benchmarking tool comparing 54 countries on 17 key HR themes, including employee engagement, role clarity, motivation and commitment – reveals that a staggering 67% of female respondents indicated dissatisfaction with their pay and continued to see no clear relationship between their performance and what appears in their bank account every month.

The responses from female participants in the GEEI are shocking:

  • 37% found it difficult to give feedback to their colleagues, while 47% found it difficult to give feedback to their direct superior.
  • 36% reported that that they lack the freedom to do their work the way they see fit.
  • 33% contended they have less room to make decisions at work.

The report also shows that women believe that they are offered a less challenging work environment as compared to men, that they are offered fewer training and development opportunities. In short, the data indicates that women feel held back in the work.

In the realm of HR management, you have the responsibility to take care of all your people, and the numbers show that most organizations don’t. Not enough, at least.

What can you do?

IWD is merely a highlighter that points out the need for action. I say, let’s get to work. Give your people a voice – an equal voice. Give them a safe channel to show their talent, their ideas, and their worth to your organization. Tap into the talent you’ve been wasting and, at the same time, level up on gender equality.