Gender Equity at Work: 4 Small Steps Everyone Can Take

From changing how we talk about women (and men!) to checking your biases and sharing success stories, we look at four ways everyone can take steps to support and encourage gender equity at work.

The word ‘equity’ is dual-purpose. Related to gender and the workplace, equity sets the stage for equality, as it refers to the “fairness of treatment for both women and men, according to the their respective needs.” If equality is the end goal, equity is the means to get there.

We take a look at 5 small steps everyone can take to support and encourage gender equity at work:

Check your biases: Think we’ve banished stereotypes? Think again. Female leaders are routinely mistaken for junior players – and it’s not only men doing the mistaking. “In my own unconscious bias,” says one woman of her meeting with a woman lead engineer, “I would have never pictured her in that role.” Under-appreciated often translates to overlooked. So be honest about your blind spots and check them accordingly.

Share success stories: Have an interesting career story? Share it. Sharing success stories, whether it’s your triumph or someone else’s, can help to make the seemingly unconquerable seem conquerable – such as rising in a male-dominated field or mastering the work-family equation. Encourage others and where possible demonstrate that it is possible to be successful in both professional and personal life by using examples of people you know who have succeeded in doing just that. And if you’ve found something that helps you with the work-life juggle, share it!

Don’t ‘mummy-track’ women: Easing a new mum’s workload (“I know you just had a baby so we’re going to scale back your projects”) seems like a good idea, until you realise it can feel like a penalty that oh-so-gently chases women out the door. Many new mums are excited to get back to business, says our Modern Family Index study. Most plan to be as committed to careers as before children came along. So even benevolent discrimination costs. Instead of assuming a woman is stepping back, ask how much she plans to take on.

Use inclusive language and words: Changing how we talk about women (and men – we’ll come to that!) and thinking about the words we use to describe a woman is one small step that can have big results. Using words such as bossy, emotional, cold or scatty can subtly knock women, and might quietly gnaw away at their progress. It’s important to think about the effect they might have - labels such as these can impede careers.

“Fathers do not deserve to be branded second-fiddle from the moment their children are born,” wrote an Australian mum in a now-viral post on LinkedIn. “It’s time we did away with ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carer titles and recognised both parents for what they truly are: equals”