The importance of gender diversity and equality in the workplace

This is a photo of a woman holding up a sign that says "WOMEN". There is a KeyPay logo in the top left corner.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March, but we at KeyPay believe that gender equality and diversity should be a year-round focus.

Did you know that on average, full-time working women earn $4.41 (AUD) less per hour than full-time working men*? And that in 2021, the accounting sector was made up of 52.2% women and 47.8% men - but there was a full-time gender pay gap of 17.5%^?

The benefits of a diverse workplace

Aside from the intrinsic benefits, equal representation of women can have wide-ranging positive effects on your business.

     1. Fresh perspectives

Having an even distribution of men and women in your teams allows things to be viewed from different perspectives, which brings new ideas and fresh approaches to the table. This can be beneficial for bringing creative, innovative projects to life.

     2. Improved staff retention

If your employees feel that they are equally represented in the workplace, are being paid fairly in comparison to their male colleagues, and believe that you’re doing everything you can as an employer to create an equal working environment, they’ll be happier. If your staff are happier, they’ll want to continue working and investing time into your business, thus improving your retention rate and allowing you to hold onto talented employees that benefit your business.

     3. An attractive work environment for prospective employees

When candidates are applying for a role, one of the first things they’ll do is seek reviews on your company culture and working environment. A business that is committed to equal opportunity and diversity will be more attractive to a prospective employee - especially considering that the power is in the hands of the interviewee. The hiring process is no longer one-dimensional, as it’s just as much about what the employer can do for the employee (in terms of company culture, remuneration and career progression), as it is the other way around.

How to promote gender equality in business

Now is as good a time as any to reflect on your business and staff - but it’s important to approach the subject in a moral and ethical way.

1. Be aware

It’s important to acknowledge the gender pay gap and gender diversity in the workplace. It’s easy for an employer to state that they support equal opportunities, but it’s crucial that there’s a solid framework in place to highlight exactly what’s being done to promote diversity. Adopting corporate policies relating to Gender Diversity and Inclusion are a great place to start, so that new and existing employees have an understanding of what’s being done within the business.

Be proactive in your hiring practices as well, by interviewing women for traditionally male-dominated roles to break gender biases.

2. Promote corporate giving to women-led charities

Corporate giving is a great way to improve staff retention, company culture and boost engagement within the business. Consider initiatives to donate to women-led charities to further commit your support to gender equality, and encourage employees to get involved through programs such as volunteer days or company-wide fundraisers. For example, at KeyPay, employees are encouraged to take 2 days of volunteer leave each year. If you volunteer on a non-work day, KeyPay will also donate the equivalent of your salary for that day (if it were a working day) to the charity in question.

3. Ensure fair promotion and pay practices

Employers who proactively review promotion procedures and pay between genders are positively contributing to closing the gender pay gap. Make sure that there is a fair, equal framework in place for both men and women who are seeking career progression, and aim to promote gender diversity at a leadership level. 

Transparent pay (or even transparent pay brackets) are also a great way to promote gender equality within the workplace, though this is a controversial practice as it may cause conflict and lead to some employees feeling under-valued.

4. Encourage flexibility in the workforce

Empower women to take on full-time and leadership roles by promoting flexibility to accommodate for childcare and other responsibilities. This will have positive effects on employee retention and equal opportunities within the business.

Keep the conversation going

Although there’s been significant progress in gender equality and diversity, the hard work doesn’t end here. Show your support for strong women in business - and around the world - by sharing this blog post or our YouTube video on social media, using the hashtags #GenderEquality and #GenderDiversity

Learn more about International Women’s Day and how to get involved year-round in the global movement to forge a gender equal world.

* Data sourced from KeyPay’s 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report

^ Data sourced from WGEA’s 2021 Comparison Report

Sophie Borton-Sutherland

NZ Partner Marketing

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