As an entrepreneur, you’re always seeking for ways to increase equal involvement in modern companies. You recognize that everyone has something valuable to contribute, whether it’s leveling the playing field for marginalized groups or encouraging new thinking.
The COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted inequities in our society. From healthcare to education to social security, practically every sector was struck and caught off guard, not only in emerging economies but also in industrialized economies. Although social and economic inequities are not new, the epidemic highlighted them while calling for rapid responses to keep people and society from spiraling into deeper disasters.
Here are a few ways you can encourage equal participation in your business:
- Encourage diversity.
When you’re putting together your team, make sure to encourage diversity. Include people from different backgrounds and experiences to get a variety of perspectives. This will help ensure that everyone feels included and that all voices are heard.
- Promote creativity.
Innovation comes from all corners, so make sure to create an environment that promotes creativity and new ideas. Encourage your team to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems.
- Encourage collaboration.
Working together is key to any successful business. When everyone is working towards a common goal, great things can happen. Encourage your team to collaborate and brainstorm together to come up with the best possible solutions.
- Be open to feedback.
Feedback is essential to any business, so make sure you’re open to hearing what your team has to say. Encourage constructive criticism and use it to help improve your business.
By encouraging diversity, creativity, collaboration, and feedback, you can create an environment that promotes equal participation in your business.
The world we’re living in can be highly unequal, yet possibilities of social entrepreneurship and innovations can be available even in developing and poor societies. Connectivity has now a huge role in driving novelty and access to knowledge and social mobility. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines social mobility as the movement of individuals, families, or groups through a system of social hierarchy or stratification. Indeed the number of self-employed people and small and medium-sized enterprises has been growing in many countries.
Further on, a social movement is often fueled by educational opportunities. It is never enough to highlight the role of education in achieving social mobility and consequently increasing income mobility. As the Encyclopedia Britannica points out “most recently, in postindustrial societies, inequality seems to be increasing between highly educated and poorly educated workers or between those with access to evolving technologies and those who lack such access.”
This is the point when some people start to think about the famous question “What if the solution for whatever big problem is on the mind of someone that had no proper access to education.”
Even though the pandemic has slowed down reforms and progress toward accessible education for everyone must be a priority for all societies. It will be crucial to the post-pandemic economic and social recovery due to its essential role in increasing economic growth.
On the other hand, the situation requires fast and efficient educational methods and entrepreneurial education is one of them. We are born with many abilities, but an impressive one is the ability to adapt to change. In a world that changes at a fast and even unpredicted pace, the knowledge provided by the traditional curricula might fall behind. In such a world, children, youth, and adults need the mindset to think about innovative solutions to overcome challenges or in other words to survive. This is what happens in business. Thus it is important to not forget this ability and to invest in the mindset that would help identify solutions to problems fast.
Entrepreneurship is a tool for economic growth and if it’s purpose-driven entrepreneurship it can be a tool for social change.
How Can a Business Promote Gender Equality?
Despite increased publicity and discussions surrounding the inequalities women face in the workplace, there remains a tremendous amount of work to be done to close the gender gap.
According to a McKinsey study on women in the workplace, corporate America has made important progress in improving women’s representation over the past few years, especially since the start of the pandemic, but there is still more progress to be made. The research shows that women are underrepresented at every level, and women of color are the most underrepresented group of all, lagging behind white men, men of color, and white women. The study revealed that the underrepresentation of women in high-level roles isn’t due to a lack of education or attrition rates.
Although there has been a significant gain in women’s representation in recent years, the McKinsey survey highlights the gender gap in the workplace. It discovers that, despite having more bachelor’s degrees and the same attrition rate, women are less likely to get hired into entry-level employment than men. The discrepancy grows as employees advance up the corporate ladder. Only 86 women are promoted to the level of manager for every 100 men.
Because there are fewer suitable women to promote from inside due to a shortage of entry-level female hires. This creates a vicious cycle, which the McKinsey research said would continue unless businesses committed to gender equality.
“Although companies have long pronounced commitments to gender diversity, it’s important to remember that only active and intentional actions on the part of employers to enlist women in the workforce, at all levels, will help toward narrowing the gender gap,” Price said.
Aside from legal reforms, businesses can focus on cultural and organizational improvements to eliminate gender imbalance. It is not sufficient to just hire more women, though this is a good start. Businesses must aim to close the gender gap while also making their workplaces truly inclusive because diversity alone does not generate inclusive workplaces.
1. Focus on diversity during your recruitment process.
Creating gender equality in the workplace starts with your recruitment process. Work toward a diverse and equitable workplace by creating accurate and inclusive job descriptions, sourcing a gender-diverse candidate pipeline, and conducting fair interviews. It’s important to ensure your hiring process is free of internal bias. These measures should be taken for every level of seniority; however, they are especially important for executive positions.
McKinsey’s statistics show that men currently hold roughly 60% of manager positions, while women hold only 40%. This representational disparity increases with each step up the corporate ladder. For example, in the C-suite, only 1 in 4 executives are women, while fewer than 1 in 25 are women of color. Businesses can address gender equality by hiring more senior-level female workers.
2. Create fair compensation and promotion procedures.
Create an employee compensation program that is fair, equitable and transparent. Offer your employees equal pay for equal work, regardless of their gender. This is one of the most obvious and easy ways you can work towards gender equality in your workplace. Offering competitive and fair pay is also a great way to attract and retain top talent.
Additionally, businesses should focus on promoting qualified women from within. Create a standard set of evaluation and promotion procedures that allow hardworking women to move up the corporate ladder. While this can reduce the current gender gap that exists, everybody benefits from transparent evaluation and promotion procedures, not just women and minorities.
3. Offer flexible and supportive employee benefits.
The McKinsey study found that employee burnout is one of the largest stressors currently impacting women in the workplace. Since the pandemic, women are disproportionately affected by burnout, stress and exhaustion compared to their male counterparts. What’s more, 1 in 3 women said they considered downshifting their career or leaving the workforce.
Companies can reduce stress by offering comprehensive benefits and more opportunities for better work-life balance, such as better access to child care and greater acceptance of flexible work arrangements (remote work, hybrid work and flexible scheduling). This can reduce burnout among women and allow qualified mothers to play a more active role in the corporate world.
4. Create a diversity and inclusion training program.
Train your employees on what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace. Have your employees attend a diversity training program customized to your business to address potential biases and prejudices within your organization. This can also encourage your employees to move from awareness to action in terms of allyship.
5. Hold managers accountable.
According to Price, companies must become assertive about gender diversity and treat it as an integral part of their business strategies. She suggested tying supervisors’ bonuses to diversity and inclusion objectives.
“It is important for companies to track, measure, and hold managers accountable for diversity and inclusion efforts,” Price said. “If this important business metric is not tracked, we may never see any improvement.”
6. Build an inclusive company culture.
To bridge the gap, companies must create a culture where employees feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. They should focus on improving their cultures to increase inclusion and enhance employee experience and engagement. Along with creating gender equality, Price said fostering inclusivity can spur innovation, retain valuable talent and reduce attrition rates.
Women can also benefit from working with other women. According to McKinsey, 1 in 5 women said they were often the only woman, or one of the only women, in the room at work. This was twice as common for senior-level women and women in technical roles. Women who are “onlys” have a significantly worse experience than women who work with other women, and about 80% of them receive microaggressions, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults.
“Women who commonly encounter microaggressions are more likely to leave the workplace, encounter sexual harassment at work, and have their qualifications challenged,” Price said.
A work environment that is not only diverse but inclusive is an integral part of reducing the gender gap. Price said that for businesses to truly benefit from the myriad backgrounds in the global economy, they must make room for everyone in their companies and empower them to speak up. Companies must take bolder steps to create inclusive cultures so that women, and all employees, feel supported at their workplaces.
7. Pay attention to political changes.
There are current federal and state laws intended to eliminate the gender gap and provide equal opportunities for men and women. For example, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits wage disparity based on sex. However, as we get closer to a world with gender equality in the workplace, look out for any potential legal changes that arise.
The CNBC and SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey about workforce happiness revealed that nearly 80% of respondents believe diversity and inclusion are important in the workplace; however, nearly one-quarter of workers say their company is not doing enough to address those things.
Employees want to work in an environment where they feel valued and treated fairly. Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion to bridge the gender gap can be key to attracting and retaining top talent.
A diverse and inclusive workforce fosters greater employee engagement, which in turn can increase financial returns and market share. Engaged employees tend to feel more energized and connected to their organization, and they are often willing to go the extra mile to maximize productivity. High employee engagement is also linked to higher employee retention, which saves money on recruitment costs.
Providing your employees with an inclusive and equitable space to be creative is ideal for innovation. A diverse workforce brings a unique set of ideas and perspectives to the table, and an inclusive culture that allows those voices equal opportunity to be heard is great for creating new solutions. The key to this is being both diverse and inclusive.
“It is time we all acknowledge that having a diverse and inclusive workforce is good for business,” Price said. “The numbers simply don’t lie.”