Breaking Barriers: Advancing Gender Equity and Leadership

31 Mar 2023

This month International Women’s Day was celebrated around the world and the central focus was Embrace Equity, a longstanding challenge across industries with women facing inequalities in hiring, promotions, pay and leadership opportunities.

However, there is a growing awareness and commitment to addressing these disparities and creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces for all.

From corporate leaders and policymakers to grassroots activists and advocates, individuals and organisations across industries are taking positive steps towards gender equity. By shedding light on these positive developments, we hope to inspire continued action towards a more equitable future for all.

Gender Equity in Leadership

Despite the progress made in gender equity, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women are well represented in leadership roles in the health and human services sector.

While women make up almost 70% of the global health and social sector workforce, they only occupy a quarter of leadership positions, and this gap is even larger for BIPOC women, who make up only 6% of senior positions.

Although there are barriers to progress, such as the first broken rung, where men are often promoted over women for entry-level leadership positions, we can address these challenges by replacing the rung and at the same time removing the glass ceiling and the other systemic barriers that impede women’s advancement in leadership roles.

Companies that have leaders who are committed to prioritising gender equity have been shown to have better outcomes for both women and men.

By promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, leaders can ensure that women are given equal opportunities for advancement and are not held back, enabling them and the wider workplace to flourish.

The Role of Men in Promoting Gender Equity

One important factor in achieving gender equity is the role men can play in promoting it. As powerful allies, they can promote, highlight, and sponsor women to give them opportunities to succeed.

Encouraging gender diversity on boards, promoting gender-inclusive speaking and interview panels, implementing diversity and inclusion training are crucial steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.

Businesses should set diversity targets and combine them with mentoring projects and improved flexibility in working conditions.

By making the decision to improve gender equity and taking positive steps in that direction, organisations are likely to see improvements in their performance as well.

Advancing Gender Equity: Strategies for Moving Forward

Achieving gender equity is not a simple process but it’s crucial to start, even if with small steps can steadily build momentum.

A good place to start is with diversity and inclusion training. If people aren’t aware there’s a problem or don’t understand why it’s a problem, there’s no impetus or urgency to take material steps to resolving it.

This alone won’t do it. It must be combined with changes to how a business hires, trains and promotes its employees. Setting diversity targets, which can be combined with mentoring projects and improved flexibility in working conditions, is another step in the right direction.

Organisations can take additional steps such as:

→ Turning flexible policies focused on equity into action.

→ Getting educated about implicit bias and gender discrimination.

→ Completing a gender pay gap analysis.

→ Having employees participate in unconscious bias training.

→ Use data and analytics to identify areas where women are underrepresented.

→ Establishing a framework for transparency and accountability.

By continuing to prioritise this critical issue and implementing a range of sustainable, hardwired solutions, industries can create a more equitable workplace where women can thrive and succeed in any role they want.

Given the war on talent and an ageing population, it would seem a no-brainer to embrace gender equity, at the very least as a workforce strategy to attract and retain todays and tomorrow’s leaders.

If you want to read more about #EmbraceEquity for IWD 2023, Click here.

(2023). Equality versus Equity: What’s the difference as we #EmbraceEquity for IWD 2023 and beyond? [Photograph].

About the Author

Danna is the Director of Marketing & Digital Growth at HardyGroup. She is an experienced Communications professional and journalist, with a strong background in Marketing across multiple industries in Australia and New Zealand.