How Businesses Can Establish and Maintain Workplace Equality


A survey on women in finance conducted by Financial News revealed that the fight against gender imbalance in the workplace is growing stronger, but familiar obstacles and issues remain. When women still think gender discrimination exists in the workplace and so many report having personally experienced discrimination, it’s evident that businesses need to work toward establishing and maintaining workplace equality. Furthermore, businesses need to portray the existence of that equality to female employees.


Many women find the discrimination becomes worse as they age and progress in their careers, and it is an often cited complaint, but how prevalent is it? In a poll of 2,000 female employees conducted by Investors in People:

  • 83 percent think gender discrimination still exists
  • Almost half of the respondents (45 percent) have personally experienced gender discrimination
  • 30 percent of men believe a difference doesn’t exists between men and women, but women earn 19 percent less per hour than men

Furthermore, over 60 percent of the Financial News respondents said they have suffered some form of gender discrimination by the time they put 15 years into the workforce. Since these women are experienced and considered valuable employees, encourage female staff –especially these women – to discuss discrimination and find ways to make sure the company doesn’t does not discriminate.

Only four percent of female employees think being female makes it easier to succeed. Likewise, 61 percent of women think they must work harder than male counterparts to be viewed at the same level of achievement by supervisors. To ensure this isn’t happening, companies must demonstrate that they’re measuring performance consistently and fairly by setting clear goals and measures for all positions, providing feedback, and conducting progress reviews throughout projects and quarters. They should also recognize and reward good performances while addressing and improving poor performances.

An astounding 90 percent of women want the government to force companies to conduct equal pay audits, demonstrating women are genuinely concerned about the inequality of pay between men and women. Businesses need to handle pay inequality concerns. If you think your company truly has equal pay, you should still take care of the perception of pay inequality. Generally, basic pay isn’t the concern; rather, the concern is performance-related pay.

Have transparency about how you determine someone’s pay. One company’s HR department reviews the compensation of one-third of its positions relative to national and local markets each year. They then make the average pay equal to the 50th percentile of the broad market, and the results are shared with all departments. The company also looks closely at each individual position to determine if the person’s proficiency and skill level should result in a higher pay than the 50th percentile. Now that you’ve seen the cold hard facts and some examples of ways to change your business culture, is there anything else you can do?

  • Talk with your employees about opportunities for advancement, and sit down with them individually to discuss their current career path and plans
  • Have an open door policy and encourage questions. Employees may be shy at first, so facilitate the conversation by making an effort to have coffee or lunch with one employee each week
  • In having these conversations, become aware of each woman’s individual circumstances, including her family life, and make sure your support and encouragement is clear
  • While it is important to have women in the top level of your business, make sure your focus is on the business as a whole, promoting at all levels

Unique Challenges

Women face challenges in the workplace that men may not face. Only 13 percent of women think having a successful career with a family is possible. Although men can also feel this burden, women are more likely to feel stressed by trying to balance work life and family life. To help ease this stress, be flexible with the work/family balance by:

  • Checking in often to ensure that not only are your employee’s needs being met, but her children as well
  • Initiate support for mothers without a strong support network such as backup childcare or a working mother’s social group
  • Be mindful of special circumstances such as the need to breastfeed at work or leave early due to family emergency or sickness, and be as flexible as possible.
  • Work with mothers on maternity leave to ensure they stay updated on the new happenings while they are gone, including any missed training or important changes

Women should feel encouraged and confident to either begin a job or return to their job when maternity leave ends, as well as maintain momentum in their careers, even if they take maternity leave. There is always pressure to succeed, but the pressure seems to be intensified when it involves women juggling work, family, and personal matters. In order to have a successful career in the long term, keeping momentum is imperative, which requires support from the business. It’s time to put an end to the stigma that women, including working mothers, have something to prove.


Although women-only networking events seem like a good idea, they should be avoided. Women want equality, not special treatment. While you can hold events that discuss and debate inequality issues, make them open to men and women. Having a balance of men and women at the top level of a company is important, but women should be fairly represented throughout a company. According to Financial News, businesses should establish “annual targets for recruiting and promoting women at all levels, from graduate trainees to vice-presidents to board executives.”

Although we’d like to believe workplace inequality is a thing of the past, it still exists. Businesses can do a lot to address inequality, as well as establish and maintain workplace equality. In doing so, you’re creating a healthy, diverse, respectful, and socially responsible culture for everyone – men and women alike.


Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.

Photo Credit: Stocksnap, Pixabay 

3 Powerful Ways to Improve Diversity of Thought on Your Team

When I moved to the U.S., I started working at the community college library in Santa Fe, NM.

Some students only came to the library to see me, because a new foreign person was working there. I felt so special that they wanted to talk to me and ask for my opinion. As some students told me, it was interesting for them to get a fresh, diverse perspective and to learn more about me.

Coming from Moscow, which has a population of more than 12 million people, I was not used to a lot of attention for being “different.” But in Santa Fe, my diversity of thought set me apart.

Diversity of thought, also known as cognitive diversity, refers to the notion that each of us is unique; that we are raised and brought up differently, and we have different personal and professional experiences which influence how we think and interpret information. And this acknowledgment has become a core part of many companies’ efforts to drive innovation in their organizations and industries.

Diversity of thought has been found to be helpful to:

  • Avoid groupthink
  • Overcome subjective overconfidence
  • Listen to underrepresented opinions
  • Be aware of unconscious biases and look beyond stereotypes

While cognitive diversity is “defined as differences in perspectives or information processing styles” and is less visible than racial or cultural diversity, it shouldn’t be ignored. Recent research by Alison Reynolds and David Lewis found a significant correlation between cognitive diversity and high performance. They have run the execution exercise more than 100 times over the last 12 years with groups comprised of senior executives, MBA students, general managers, scientists, teachers and teenagers. In their research, teams with greater cognitive diversity performed faster, irrespective to their gender, ethnicity and age.

How to Increase Diversity of Thought

There are a number of different ways that leaders can increase diversity of thought in their organizations. Some of these include:

Hiring outside of the box

Once not known as a place that promoted a diverse talent, Silicon Valley is now thinking ahead by embracing neurodiversity. Many people with autism and/or dyslexia have higher than average abilities and can “bestow special skills in pattern recognition, memory, or mathematics.” Everyone to some extent is differently abled, we are all born and raised differently. Our ways of thinking result from both our inherent “machinery” and the experiences that have “programmed” us. Companies like SAP, Hewlett Packard, IBM, UBS and others are starting to adjust their policies to meet a broader pool of neurodiverse talent. Hiring diverse talent creates a major shift, and leaders are trying to adopt a new style of management or provide accommodations to cater to their needs.

Managing differently by facilitating open dialogues, creating a safe environment and assessing your employees:

  • Values and styles
  • Ways of thinking (divergent and convergent thinking)
  • Ways to approach a problem

Brainstorming: To diversify our thinking, consider using the six hat exercise which has been an effective way to approach a problem.

White Hat Thinking: Focus on the data available.

  • What data is available?
  • What information do you already have? What is missing?

Red Hat Thinking: Look at problems using reaction, and emotion.

  • How do other people react to this area?

Black Hat Thinking: Look at all the bad points of the decision. Look at it cautiously and defensively.

  • What could go wrong with approach in this area?
  • What are the biggest challenges?

Yellow Hat Thinking: This is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it.

  • What gets people excited?
  • What are my team’s strengths?
  • What would success look like?

Green Hat Thinking: This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas.

  • What are the possibilities?
  • How would an outsider approach this area?

Blue Hat Thinking: ‘Blue Hat Thinking’ represents process control. Mostly used when there is at least one other leader involved in the decision making process to determine when you need to “put on another hat.”

  • What is the next step?
  • What is our decision?

In The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson suggests breaking barriers to create innovation by learning a new field, breaking out of your network and reversing your assumptions. But, as illustrated in my personal example, even small changes can make a big difference. By adding socially diverse people to a group, people learn from different perspectives and experiences.

To increase a diversity of thought in organizations, leaders need to keep asking questions and challenge what’s in front of them, whether it is their talent, management style, or approach to a problem. That way they could see an opportunity where others won’t to stay ahead of the competition and to keep an inclusive workplace.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: It’s More Than a Training

diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

The numbers are out.

It’s been over fifty years since Title VII, the section of The Civil Rights Act that prohibits workplace discrimination. But how far have we really come?

Fortune’s data team recently released their findings on the diversity and inclusion practices of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 list. The big reveal?

Only 3% of this year’s companies are transparent about the demographics of their workforce. And of those sixteen transparent companies, 72% of senior executives are white males.

Now, more than ever, companies and organizations are feeling pressure to not only be more representative but also more inclusive of people from traditionally marginalized groups. Reports on gender and racial diversity in tech have forced the industry to make public commitments to increase diversity in their workplaces and inspired other companies to do the same.

Millennials are demanding more inclusive work cultures. Our sociopolitical environment has made conversations about the inclusion of marginalized people in every area of life absolutely critical. And according to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Report, 78% of respondents now believe diversity and inclusion is a competitive advantage.

But if major companies can’t even talk publicly about diversity, what do conversations inside of these organizations look like?

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