Gender equality is a fundamental concept in the context of relations and human rights. It refers to equality of opportunity, treatment and representation between people regardless of their gender.
The social and political objective is to create a world in which men and women have the same rights and opportunities, without any form of discrimination or prejudice.
In this article, we will explore in more depth the meaning and importance of this concept in contemporary society and, above all, try to understand whether in 2023 we can finally talk about equity or not.
Gender equality: the current situation
Despite the progress made by a society that was born and founded on patriarchy, it must be said that even today, unfortunately, a large pay gap between men and women persists in many areas. Women often earn less than their colleagues while performing equal roles, even when they possess the same (or superior) skills.
They may face many obstacles in accessing career opportunities and professional development: they are less represented in leadership roles and decision-making positions, even though they are now highly qualified and have a much higher level of education than men.
Discrimination and gender stereotypes persist on a daily basis in the business environment. Women continue to be often perceived as less competent or less trustworthy (because, as we know, sooner or later a woman is forced to give up work if she wants to become a mother) and this strongly influences recruitment decisions.
A corporate culture that ignores the presence of these issues risks perpetuating the gender gap by hindering equal opportunities in the corporate hierarchy of the present and future.
Gender gap and pay
This term refers to the difference in treatment in the workplace between men and women, a crucial and current issue that continues to affect many societies.
One of the most significant aspects is the unequal pay for equal roles: despite progress over generations, this is still a burning and controversial issue.
In the ranking on the size of the gender gap worldwide carried out by the WEF, Italy is ranked 63rd. In this regard, the Gribaudo law was unanimously approved in Italy, which aims to promote equal pay between the sexes and equal opportunities in the workplace. At the same time, work is going on in Europe to formalise a proposal on wage transparency.
Will pieces of paper turn into reality, certainty and progress? The truth is that much depends on the corporate culture that each individual business decides to adopt.
Gender equity and changing corporate culture to foster gender equality
Gender equality is a key objective for building a more inclusive and equitable working environment. Companies can play a crucial role in promoting it by adopting gender equity solutions and a radical change in corporate culture.
Gender equity refers to the approach aimed at ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities for men and women in all spheres of work. Among the actions envisaged by this corporate management methodology we highlight the following:
- Implementing company policies that ensure equal pay for men and women performing the same work or work of equal value.
- Promote gender diversity in recruitment and promotions, ensuring that men and women are represented equally at all levels.
- Support development and mentoring programmes specifically for women to foster women’s professional growth and leadership.
- Provide a work environment where men and women feel included, respected and valued for their skills.
- Organise training and awareness-raising sessions on gender issues, including unconscious biases and stereotypes, to foster greater awareness among employees.
- Promote inclusive leadership, in which managers and HR managers act as positive role models and promote respect and fairness within the organisation.
- Actively involve employees in defining gender equality policies and initiatives, listening to everyone’s perspectives and encouraging open dialogue on the issue.
- Foster a work environment that offers flexible options and reconciliation programmes to support both men and women in their family and professional responsibilities.
A further stimulus to foster change comes from the UN, which, through the creation of the 2030 Agenda, is working to raise awareness among the nations involved to promote a culture that is equitable, inclusive, sustainable and accessible to all.
The 2030 Agenda
This is an ambitious UN project, adopted in September 2015 by all 193 UN member states, to promote sustainable development globally by 2030. This agenda was conceived as a universal plan of action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, recognising that these goals are closely interlinked and influence each other.
At the heart of the 2030 Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals. Each goal is designed to address specific social, economic and environmental problems in order to:
- Promote the well-being of people
- Protect the planet
- Ensure shared prosperity
Goal 5, specifically, is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
On the UN website we can read the following: “While the world has made progress in gender equality and the empowerment of women through the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education for boys and girls), women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but the necessary condition for a prosperous, sustainable and peaceful world.
Ensuring women and girls equal access to education, health care, decent work, as well as representation in decision-making, political and economic processes, will promote sustainable economies that will benefit societies and humanity as a whole.”
The 2030 Agenda represents an unprecedented commitment to addressing global challenges and building a sustainable future for present and future generations. Its implementation is requiring and will continue to require constant effort and cooperation on a global level. Everyone, from the largest companies down to the smallest, must participate in the change through the promotion of a corporate culture conducive to the ultimate extinction of the gender gap.
How can an HR person help companies in this context?
An HR manager plays a crucial role in promoting equal opportunities and gender equality within companies through a careful and conscious recruiting strategy.
If HR is not committed to closing the gender gap, the needle will never be in the middle of the dial. HR is in a unique position to effect change because the profession itself is dominated by many women.
We are talking about figures who have the task of taking a leadership role in the company: they have all the necessary company data to understand what the current situation is. Precisely because of this, a large percentage of them have long been aware of the pay gap within the corporate hierarchy.
Of course, they cannot solve everything by themselves, but they can convey behaviour and a mindset aimed at abolishing the pay gap and gender bias. HR professionals have the burden and the honour of guiding, inspiring, supporting and rejecting managers when they are about to put the organisation at risk with questionable and unethical decisions.
These professionals should increasingly be prepared to closely examine how comprehensively women are represented in a company’s succession plan and consider taking positive action to make this happen.
Questioning, questioning and considering new points of view are the first steps to promote change and foster respect and gender equality in the workplace.
If you want to promote a corporate culture aimed at abolishing the gender gap once and for all, contact us: together, we will design the best strategy so that all the resources in your team feel equally valued and can work synergistically to foster company growth.