Welcome to the stage: International Women’s Day! Queue companies changing the colour of their logos, writing Linkedin posts about how much they love the women in their team, and flowers being given out around the office.
Whilst there’s no denying that celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness about discrimination and shouting about the inequality that women face is certainly important, the entire premise of IWD is to provoke action.
The issue is, companies often say they stand for a cause, without taking any kind of action.
Quite frankly, the way that so many companies act around IWD and other days or awareness months, is disappointing.
Are leaders taking action to ensure gender stereotypes are being broken down? Are companies actively working to close the gender gap? Are industries supporting the representation of women?
One day simply isn’t enough: we need action every single day.
Tatei Montejo, Head of People at Juno - “I'm very sceptical about IWD as it's such an opportunity for tokenism. I care far less about what companies put on their social media channels on the 8th of March than I do about how many women actually work there, whether they hold leadership positions, and how much they get paid versus their male peers."
There’s Still A Long Way To Go Until Women Are Equal In The Workplace
While progress has been made towards gender equality in the workplace, there is still a long way to go to ensure that women are treated fairly, have equal opportunities, and can reach their full potential. It will take ongoing effort and commitment from organizations, leaders, and individuals to create lasting change.
However, the report also found that progress has been slow, with women still significantly underrepresented in senior leadership roles and facing systemic barriers to advancement.
Research by the World Economic Forum found that it will take 135.6 years to close the gender pay gap, based on current trends.
This report also highlighted the need for targeted interventions and policy changes to accelerate progress towards gender equality.
Ultimately, achieving gender equality in the workplace requires ongoing effort and commitment from individuals, organizations, and policymakers.
While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to ensure that women have the same opportunities and access to resources as men.
What Do Women Have To Contend With In The World of Work?
Whilst most people know that the world of work isn’t set up to support and include women, there’s often a lack of awareness surrounding what women are actually up against.
Some workplaces may not be aware of the challenges women face, or may not have a sufficient understanding of the benefits of diversity and inclusion.
This can prevent them from taking proactive steps to support women in the workplace.
So, it’s important that we all know and understand the main issues women face at work (and these are just a few!).
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 42% of women in the US have experienced some form of gender discrimination at work. Traditional gender stereotypes still exist in many workplaces, which can lead to women being seen as less competent, less ambitious, and less suited for certain roles.
This can result in women being overlooked for promotions or opportunities, and being paid less than their male counterparts.
Lack of Representation
Women hold only 29% of senior management positions, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey & Company.
Women are still underrepresented in many industries and leadership positions, which can make it difficult for them to advance in their careers. This can also contribute to a lack of diversity and a lack of female role models and mentors.
According to the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the global average for the gender pay gap is 16.0%, which means that women earn only 84 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Despite progress, the gender pay gap still exists in many countries and industries. Women are often paid less than men for doing the same job, which can result in significant financial disadvantages in their careers.
Lack of Family-Friendly Policies
According to a report by the United Nations, only 67 countries guarantee paid maternity leave, and just 48 provide paternity leave. Additionally, many women are forced to leave their jobs or work reduced hours due to the lack of family-friendly policies such as flexible work arrangements and affordable childcare.
A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that male evaluators were more likely to score female candidates lower on competence and hireability, compared to male candidates, even when their qualifications were identical.
The study also found that both male and female evaluators were more likely to hire male candidates, even when female candidates performed better in job interviews.
Unconscious bias occurs in hiring decisions, promotions, or performance evaluations. This can result in women being evaluated unfairly or overlooked for opportunities.
Harassment and Discrimination
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 22% of women at work have experienced sexual harassment. Harassment and discrimination still occur in many workplaces, which can create a hostile environment for women, impact their physical and mental health, and prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Harassment can have serious negative consequences for women in the workplace. It can create a hostile work environment that can impact a woman's physical and emotional well-being, as well as her ability to perform her job. It can also lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety, lower job satisfaction, and decreased motivation.
Furthermore, harassment can have long-term effects on a woman's career trajectory.
It can result in missed opportunities for career advancement, reduced earning potential, and even job loss. Women who experience harassment may also feel like they have to leave their jobs or change career paths altogether, which can have a significant impact on their financial security and future prospects.
Further Marginalised Women In The Workplace
Whilst all women face struggles in the workplace, some are affected by discrimination and bias more than others. Specifically, women of colour, transgender women, and non-binary people.
Women of Colour
Black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men, while Latinas earn only 55 cents.
33% of Black women and 26% of Latinas reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment at work in the past year, compared to 14% of white women.
Women of colour often face significant challenges in the workplace due to both gender and racial discrimination. They may experience bias and discrimination in hiring and promotions, as well as pay disparities and a lack of opportunities for career advancement.
Research has shown that women of colour are more likely to experience microaggressions, such as being interrupted or spoken over, having their judgment questioned, or being mistaken for someone more junior. They may also be subjected to racial and gender stereotypes that can impact their ability to succeed in the workplace.
Women of colour may also face additional barriers to accessing employment and career opportunities due to systemic racism and bias, including lack of access to education and training, limited professional networks, and discrimination in the hiring process.
26% of transgender women reported being fired because of their gender identity or expression, while 50% reported being harassed or mistreated on the job.
73% of employers have explicit policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but this leaves many transgender women without legal protections in the workplace.
34% of Black transgender women reported being fired due to their gender identity, compared to 18% of non-Black transgender women.
Transgender women can face significant disadvantages in the workplace due to discrimination and bias against them. Research has shown that trans women experience higher rates of unemployment, underemployment, and workplace discrimination compared to both cisgender women and men.
Transgender women may face barriers to accessing employment, including discrimination during the hiring process, lack of workplace accommodations, and a lack of legal protections in many countries.
Even when transgender women are employed, they may experience workplace harassment, bullying, and mistreatment from colleagues, supervisors, and customers.
Transgender women may also face significant barriers to career advancement and fair compensation, as well as reduced access to health care benefits, including gender-affirming medical care.
Discrimination against non-binary people in the workplace is a relatively under-researched area, but studies show that they face significant challenges and obstacles.
35% of non-binary respondents experienced mistreatment or discrimination at work in the past year because of their gender identity.
23% of non-binary respondents were afraid to be out at work, and 17% had experienced employment discrimination because of their gender identity.
Research has shown that non-binary people experience higher rates of unemployment, underemployment, and workplace discrimination compared to both cisgender and transgender people.
Non-binary people may face barriers to accessing employment, including discrimination during the hiring process, lack of workplace accommodations, and a lack of legal recognition of their gender identity. Even when non-binary people are employed, they may experience workplace harassment, bullying, and mistreatment from colleagues, supervisors, and customers.
You Can Be The Change
Whilst all of these statistics and excerpts of data can feel heavy - because they are - they shouldn’t bog you down. Instead, they should inspire you to be a part of the change that IWD supports.
Want to do more than just post a Linkedin status about your wonderful team of women? It’s time to learn how you can actively support all women in the workplace - click here to read how!