5 Signs Your Workplace May Be Leaving Women Behind and How To Fix It

LAURIE MINOTT

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Laurie Minott

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Note: this blog has been adapted for an Australian audience from the original piece on the Great Place To Work US site. 

 

In Australia, recent data shows that the participation rate of men in the labour force has decreased to 71.1% and women have experienced a slight increase to 62.7% as of October 2023. Despite this improvement, there remains a substantial gap between men and women in workforce participation. 

This provides a picture of the state of diversity and inclusion in the country’s workplaces: while great strides have been made in including and empowering women at work, continuous efforts must be done. 

When doing so, it is crucial to examine the subtle yet telling signs that might indicate an organisation is unintentionally leaving women behind. Recognising these indicators is the first step towards fostering a workplace where women thrive alongside their male counterparts. This article delves into the signs that a workplace may be falling short on gender equity and provides a roadmap for improvement. 

 

Honoured, excited and a bit anxious – those were the first three emotions I had when I was asked to join a group that had been working together to solve an important healthcare issue facing their association. My boss, Elaine, told me ‘…with your knowledge and background, I think you would be of great value to the group.’ 

I was early in my career – ambitious, hardworking, and excited to learn and contribute to meaningful work. This was right up my alley, I thought. 

But when I walked into our first meeting, my niggling anxiety overtook my excitement. A group of men arrived and began chatting with each other about the football game the night before. 

When we all took our seats around a large table, I could see that I was the only woman among 12 men who had been working together for years.   

At every meeting for months, I tried to speak up. Tried to contribute. But more and more, I felt like an outsider. I beat myself up for it. Maybe I should network more one-on-one with members. Maybe I should watch football or take up golf to have more common ground. Maybe I am not assertive enough. 

I knew they weren’t purposely trying to exclude me, yet I still felt as though I didn’t belong. I didn’t feel like my voice mattered and I slowly began to disengage and withdraw – just the opposite of how I showed up and contributed in every other aspect of my work. And it felt awful. 

When someone doesn’t feel they belong, they don’t feel free to contribute their ideas, and those magnificent ideas stay bottled up. 

None of us wake up in the morning with the intent to create this experience. In fact, many of us put in an enormous amount of effort to prevent this from happening because we know thatinnovation flows from diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. But too often, inequity slips into the workplace without us even realising it. 

 

Signs your organisation may be leaving women behind: 

There are often subtle indicators that an issue requires greater attention. Some are more obvious than others, but things to look out for include: 

  1. How diverse are your meetings?

When you walk into a meeting room or start a Zoom call, whether it’s a leadership team meeting, a committee meeting or a working team meeting, is it a diverse composition of people that includes a balance of both men and women? 

  1. What does employee turnover look like?

Are women leaving the company at a disproportionate rate to men? 

  1. Is there a trend in your promotions?

Do women get promoted at a comparable rate to men? 

  1. How vocal are women in meetings?

Do you see and observe women speaking up? Do they appear engaged? Are their ideas and input being heard and considered in decisions? 

  1. Do your benefits skew to some?

Is your company flexible and supportive to those with caregiving responsibilities? Do you offer flexible work arrangements and programs that support those balancing child/elder care responsibilities so they can fully contribute to the organisation? 

 

5 steps to improve gender equity in the workplace: 

  1. Measure and monitor the numbers

I worked with a CEO who was one of the biggest advocates for women. Half of his executive team was made up of women and as a result, he didn’t believe that his organisation had a gender parity issue.

But none of usreally know until we look at the data.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce has been very transparent about his surprise at finding a lack of pay parity after three hard years of tackling this issue. To this end,Salesforce conducts an annual pay auditand makes adjustments to close gaps every year. And Marc challenges every CEO to do the same.

 

Indicators for gender equity and inclusion in the workplace 

    • Gender distribution by leadership level
      Are leadership roles at every level of your organisation evenly held by men and women? This is an essential measure. Leadership makes most of the company decisions. To ensure diverse perspectives, every level within an organisation needs to be diverse. When this happens, people across the organisation can see someone like them, which inspires them to give their best and believe that their voice will also be heard.

 

    • Salary by role, by gender
      Are pay levels consistent by role regardless of which gender occupies them? Organisations instil a sense of trust and respect when they pay and treat everyone fairly, regardless of gender.

 

    • Turnover by gender
      Are you losing more women disproportionately than men? While a lagging indicator, Turnover may signal a need to evaluate your workplace environment and whether all people believe they can fully contribute. During the pandemic, more women than men have left the workplace to care for families. Do your organisation’s programs effectively support working parents?
       
    • Promotions by gender
      Promotion data is another essential measure of how well your programs and practices ensure everyone has the opportunity for advancement.Are you promoting people based on their tenure or hours logged instead of their contributions? Is your system excluding women from mentoring opportunities or exposure to senior leadership? You might need to rethink howfair the path to promotionsis at your company.
       
    • Employee feedback
      Employee surveys, interviews and focus groups provide real-time insights that enable you to gauge progress and opportunity. Six statements in ourTrust Index™ surveymonitor gender parity on more than just tangible gaps such as pay – they explore elements of psychological safety and total wellbeing, too. 

 

  1. Lead listening tours

Get curious about the experience of women in your workplace – both what the experience is like at its best and the challenges that get in the way. Gather ideas and feedback on how it can be improved. Actively involve women in your organisation in developing solutions and monitoring progress. 

  1. Raise awareness through transparency

Elevate awareness by being transparent about how the organisation is performing with the measures listed above. Among Best Workplaces™, CEOs who take a strong stance and speak openly about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) are the most successful. 

When it is a true priority to a CEO, they talk about it, they recognise and communicate the business imperative, and as a result, the organisation rallies around this priority. 

  1. Turn empathy into action

Taking a public stand on DEIB is important, but Best Workplaces™ go further than statements of commitment. These companies take an in-depth look at their practices, culture and leadership, and use that knowledge to make tangible changes, whether that’s directly addressinggender pay imbalancesor moreleadership development opportunities for women. 

In my own case, I knew that each of the men I was working with had only the best intentions. They went out of their way to try to have more diversity of thought, with the understanding that as a group of 12 men, they needed it. 

But as shown by my experience, and the experiences of so many other working women, intent isn’t enough. Measurement, transparency, communication and action are the keys to delivering real DEIB results in the workplace. 

Measure gender equity in your workplace
 

For more information or help on your DEIB journey,contact us abouthow to measure gender equity in your workplace with our survey and analysis tool,Emprising™. 

 

LAURIE MINOTT

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from