4 ways to improve gender equality in the workplace

Kate Palmer - HR Advice and Consultancy Director

July 31 2017

1. Train senior staff

To improve gender equality in the workplace, you need to introduce a specific policy and you need to get your top people on board with it.

Explain your gender equality policy to senior staff so they understand you take it seriously.

Give training to everyone with responsibilities under it. This will usually mean staff who make recruitment and promotion decisions, as well as those who make the call on entitlement to any benefits you offer in your company.

The training should involve examples of situations that management may find themselves in and then set out the principles they should follow.

Keep records of any training you’ve given and review the training sessions themselves to keep the content up to date with legal and social developments Be consistent to bring integrity to the policy.

You may need to be flexible with the gender equality policy at times, so when you do, document the reason why you departed from the norm.

2. Make gender blind decisions

In a similar way to ‘name-blind’ recruitment, employers could adopt a ‘gender blind’ approach.

This would mean removing any part of an application form which would indicate the job applicant’s gender. In doing so, you make recruitment or promotion decisions on merit and not on gender, intentionally or otherwise.

3. Take positive action

Positive action means that you can make a recruitment or promotion decision based on a protected characteristic such as gender, but only if it’s underrepresented in your workforce.

Say your workforce is predominantly male. If you have two job candidates equal in merit—one male and one female—you can select the female to address the imbalance.

The important term is equal in merit. But say your applicants have to pass a competency test during the recruitment process, where a pass is 80% correct answers and above.

If the female scores 85% and the male scores 90%, recruit the male. If they both score 85%, you’re free to pick the underrepresented female.

4. Take gender pay gap reporting seriously

All employers with 250 or more employees must report annually on the difference in average pay earned by male and female employees.

If you discover a pay gap, carefully consider the reason for it. If there’s no non-gender related reason, it could be gender inequality.

Make sure you seek to address it to avoid claims of equal pay in an employment tribunal. At the moment, the law to report the pay gap doesn’t apply to you if you have under 250 employees.

But the Government announced it would take further measures to close the pay gap, which may mean bringing smaller businesses within the scope of the law.

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