COVER STORY – Gender Balance @ Workplace 0

Gender balance is important because inequality in the workplace is still a big problem. More importantly, it isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. Ensuring equal representation and equal treatment of women in the workplace is imperative which will help achieve a proper gender balance among the employees and can have positive effects across the entire organization.

Nowadays, fewer women are considering returning to work as compared to men. Due to this pandemic, the service sector where women are employed in a large extension has been shut down, leading to a wider gender gap in the organization.

Gender balance is a term used to describe the equality between men and women in the workplace. Gender balance in the organization helps to keep equality among the male and female employees by providing equal opportunities to them despite discrimination against them based on their gender. Addressing gender disparity will pave the way for economic parity and help close the gap between the rich and the poor. Paying heed to gender balance will technically work at all levels, ranging from the grass-root level to the corporate level.

Gender balance in an organization impacts the daily operations of any business unit in several ways. A well gender-balanced organization is more productive than an organization where discrimination happens based on the gender of the employees. Gender balance in the organization could create more stability among the employees that can give a quality lifestyle to the employees. Gender equality also helps to increase the reputation of the company among its customers.

COVID-19 brought about a change in the ways that we perceive gender balance

COVID-19 is a pandemic that has taken the world by storm. While the intensity of the pandemic has reduced in most cases, it stays a part of our lives.

While the pandemic was at its peak, several corporate employees were required to work from home. The children too stayed at home during the time of lockdown because the schools were closed.

During this phase, women shouldered most of the household responsibilities and were required to look after the children and in some cases old-aged parents. COVID-19 impacted their lives in its entirety and induced them to take important decisions regarding their employment.

Nowadays, fewer women are considering returning to work as compared to men. Due to this pandemic, the service sector where women are employed in a large extension has been shut down, leading to a wider gender gap in the organization.

Methods of achieving gender balance in the organization

Organizations can create equality in gender among their employees by altering some of their business practices. The organization can create a gender-balanced workforce by giving equal designation and jobs to their male and female employees. To create equality among the workforce, the organization should avoid discrimination regarding male and female employees’ compensations. An organization should give their employees leadership roles as per their performance, not based on their gender.

An organization should encourage their female employee by giving them extended relaxation at the time of pregnancy and should provide them with proper maternity leave. The organization should ensure the safety of women in the organization. In the Indian context, female employee safety is very much crucial as the crime rate in some Indian cities became higher in the recent past.

To create equality among the workforce, the organization should avoid discrimination regarding male and female employees’ compensations. An organization should give its employees leadership roles as per their performance, not based on their gender.

Experts believe that one of the reasons why the issue of pay inequality stems is that women are often believed to be unwilling to make negotiations for their pay. One of the underlying reasons for the same is a shortage of confidence. In some cases, women are concerned about matters pertaining to job security and are hence willing to work on their salaries, instead of negotiating the salaries.

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Why are the equations different for men and women?

Women are traditionally believed to be homemakers. To date, marriage and motherhood are believed to negatively impact a women’s career and employability. Is this perception changing over time?

Yes, a change has appeared in more ways than one. Several employers are willing to offer maternity leaves for women and absorb them into their organizations after they are fit to join. Similarly, many organizations are willing to allow women to work during pregnancy in flexible hours, making a feasible arrangement for employees. Even more, organizations should attempt to incorporate these strategies into their work culture. This will be an important boost for gender balance-related issues.

Studies have further shown that even an organization that claims to be gender-neutral may have certain biases when it comes to appraisals. This is a matter that should be looked into and should change over time. Appraisals should be defined by an employee’s merit and not gender.

Gender parity should be addressed across various industries in India

Corporates are making a proactive attempt to ensure that even more women take up leadership roles in their organization. This is one of the finest ways to ensure gender balance at micro-levels. But there is a requirement for the trend to become more widespread to ensure that it leaves a measurable impact.

The technology sector also needs to take further feasible steps for ensuring gender balance. The technology sector is the secondlargest sector in India, after the agriculture sector, and currently employs around 4 million people, as per the ‘Women and IT Scorecard – India 2018’ report.

The changes in perceptions should be adopted by startups as well. The trend, as of now is that the number of women entrepreneurs is far lesser than entrepreneurs who are men. The fact is so prominent that it does not call for a survey to reveal the findings. When gender balance becomes a part of our life, not just the workforce, this trend also stands to change.

“Corporates are making a proactive attempt to ensure that even more women take up leadership roles in their organization. This is one of the finest ways to ensure gender balance at micro-levels. But there is a requirement for the trend to become more widespread to ensure that it leaves a measurable impact.”

Role of Leaders

The role of leaders is crucial to minimize gender inequality in the organization. The leading and traditional organizations in India are male-dominated. Leaders can create a welcoming environment for the female employee of the organization. They should nurture the belief in the equality of men and women in the workplace so that the organization’s male employees also reduce stereotypical thinking towards their female colleagues. Leaders in an organization must work efficiently to minimize the barrier between males and females in the workplace. If some are showing discrimination towards the female employee, the team leader should take proper actions to ensure equality among all the employees.

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Role of Human Resources

HR Managers exercise a crucial role to maintain a gender-equal work environment. They can exercise their power to support equality among the organization’s diverse male and female employees. HR managers should ensure a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment of female employees of the organization. HR managers must evaluate their role to check if there is any barrier to prevent any female employees from reaching the position they actually should get. HR managers must work keeping an unbiased mind and actions to ensure equality in gender in the workplace.

“HR managers should ensure a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment of female employees of the organization. HR managers must evaluate their role to check if there is any barrier to prevent any female employees from reaching the position they actually should get. HR managers must work keeping an unbiased mind and actions to ensure equality in gender in the workplace.”

Role of Men Employees at the Workplace

Men can take some crucial steps into gender equality in the organization by changing their mindset towards women. They must reduce their privileges that they are getting from their childhood. In an organization, female employees are facing different issues that demotivate them day by day. A man should stay behind their female colleagues at the time of their bad days.

In an organization, every man should be trained properly to take the necessary steps when there arise negative masculinities in the organization. As per the Indian context, Indian men are feared about the fact that empowering women in the workplace can snatch their position and this mindset must be changed.

Conclusion

Gender balance in a workplace is a crucial element for the success of any organization. Equal distribution of work and compensation will help achieve a proper gender balance among the employees of the organization. Women are the backbone of any society, so if they are treated equally in the workplace it will increase the organization’s productivity. Gender balance in the workplace is a matter that calls for regulated steps by the government and corporates for the achievement of the same. India fares well behind other nations in this respect, and efforts need to be made at macro and micro levels to achieve gender balance at the workplace. A broader awareness is one of the ways that will work in this regard.

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Senior Manager - HR, SG Analytics Vinay Ravindran is an SPHRi certified Human Resources Professional with rich and varied experience in various industries and HR functions like Talent Acquisition (Engineering, Software/Non-Technical), Performance Management, Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Organisation Development, HR Policies and System Implementation, etc. Currently, he is spearheading the Human Resources function of the Hyderabad delivery Centre of SG Analytics. An alumnus of IIM-Kozhikode, Vinay comes with over 15 years of experience in managing knowledge workforce, engineering/IT workforce and sales HR with PAN India exposure. He is a passionate and transformational leader with an ability to manage HR projects from conceptualization to completion and building relationships with clients and across organisations and teams. 

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