While significant progress has been made over the past decade or so, the fight for workplace equality is still far from over. Most industries and companies take an active role in ensuring women in their organizations are afforded opportunities, consideration and pay equal to their male counterparts.
But despite best efforts, there are still ways in which inequality persists in the office, and many of them are unseen. As a manager, you should be aware of the potential obstacles the women in your business can face, and how to mitigate them.
Fortunately, the more aggressive or malicious issues women have historically had to face in the workplace are growing rarer, but there are still instances in which they crop up. Such examples can stem from employees and coworkers – such as sexual harassment, which in and of itself can encompass a wide array of actions and attitudes. Because the subtle nuance of sexual harassment can vary from situation to situation, employers need to be extra sure to have a firm zero-tolerance policy in place that is shared with all employees. HR services can help establish and implement a policy that will cover as many incarnations of harassment as possible in an endeavor to make workplaces safer for women.
However, not all workplace difficulties are so malicious. JetHR referenced the still very real wage gap experienced by women – despite equal or in some cases greater qualification and competence, women are still on average paid less than men for the same job. Legislation has been debated to address this officially, but on the corporate front, it's an issue executives should address specifically.
Even the most fastidious policies can leave room for more subtle, socially informed obstacles women must face. For example, Human Resource Executive Online noted that women, especially those who hold executive positions, are more prone to depression and anxiety than their male coworkers. According to the source, this is due not to any active effort on the part of a specific coworker, but rather to the broader-reaching fact that women face a harder time achieving such positions, and thus must take on comparatively more stress than men.
Another systemic issue can be found in the sensitive topic of maternity leave. As Monster.com noted, the U.S. is still one of the only countries that doesn't offer paid parental leave, leaving expectant or prospective mothers with an unattractive choice of putting family plans on hold or taking a huge hit to their career development.