Embrace Equity: Promoting gender equity in the workplace

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked annually on March 8 and is a global celebration of women’s achievements while also calling for gender equality. The theme for IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, which focuses on the difference between equality and equity.

Equality vs equity

Equality and equity are two related but distinct concepts that are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.

Equality refers to treating everyone equally regardless of individual differences or circumstances. It assumes everyone has the same starting point and requires the same resources or opportunities to succeed.

Equity, however, recognizes that people have different needs and circumstances that may require different treatment or resources to achieve fairness. It seeks to address historical and systemic disadvantages by providing targeted support to those who are most in need.

Equity in the workplace recognizes that some employees may face systemic disadvantages or barriers that make it harder for them to succeed. For example, a company may offer training or mentoring programs to help employees from underrepresented groups develop their skills and advance their careers. It could also provide additional support or accommodations to employees with disabilities to ensure they have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Best practices for promoting gender equity in the workplace

Gender equity is crucial to creating a diverse, inclusive and productive work environment. Here are some approaches to promoting gender equity in the workplace.

Creating a gender-equitable culture

Organizations should strive to create a culture where everyone feels valued, respected and included. Promoting diversity and inclusion through open communication, mentorship programs and supportive policies can help achieve a gender-equitable culture.

Provide equal pay

Women often earn less than men for doing the same job, which needs to be addressed to achieve gender equity. According to Statistics Canada, female employees earned 11.1% less per hour than male employees in 2021. Organizations must conduct regular pay gap analyses, establish equitable compensation structures and eliminate unconscious bias in hiring, promotion and retention practices.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Women must often balance work and caregiving responsibilities. Providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help them manage their personal and professional lives and increase productivity.

Develop women leaders

Organizations must actively develop and promote women leaders by offering leadership development programs, mentoring and sponsorship opportunities. This can also help to create a pipeline of women leaders for future opportunities.

The impact of gender equity on employee morale and productivity

Gender equity in the workplace has a positive impact on all employee morale and productivity. These are three ways gender equity can benefit organizations:

  1. When employees feel valued and included, they are most engaged and committed to their work. This can lead to improved retention rates, reducing the costs of recruiting and training new employees.
  2. A diverse and inclusive workplace can lead to more innovation and creativity as employees bring different perspectives and ideas to the table.
  3. Gender equity in the workplace can lead to higher productivity as employees feel motivated to perform their best and contribute to the organization’s success.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s embrace equity and work towards creating a gender-equitable future.

Here are some in-person and virtual events in Toronto and Vancouver surrounding IWD and #EmbraceEquity that you can take part in:

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