10 methods to instill gender diversity in teams – uExcelerate

10 methods to instill gender diversity in teams

There is an inexplicable disconnect between companies’ professed commitment to gender diversity and the lack of evidence on gender diversity on the ground and in the daily experience of women. 

The path ahead to address this disconnect is clear. You must take deliberate and bold steps to uproot deep-seated cultural biases and instill gender diversity in the workplace. 

What is Gender Diversity?

Gender diversity is the non-discriminatory representation of individuals of different genders in an organization. However, in its larger meaning, it can also include individuals of non-binary genders.  

When used in a more inclusive sense, gender diversity is an umbrella term to include gender identities that represent genders beyond the more common binary framework. Increasingly, for gender-sensitive individuals, the binary framework – male or female – seems inadequate. Many individuals prefer not to have any gender identity, while others want to defy the accepted notions of gender. 

In discussing gender diversity, it is important to understand that, historically, many cultures had already recognized and accepted gender diversity beyond the binary definition of male and female. In the true spirit of gender diversity and non-binary inclusion in the workplace, it is important to include identities such as non-binary, transgender, etc., as acceptable descriptors of gender-diverse individuals.

Why is having Gender Diversity in the Workplace Important?

The importance of gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace does not merely arise from it being the current popular trend. It is also not some quota that needs to be filled, nor is it simply a social responsibility that needs to be embraced. Its importance stems from the fact that it improves employee performance and the business’s financial performance. 

Gallup study of over 800 business units in the retail and hospitality industries found that the business units with greater gender diversity had better financial outcomes. Also, the more gender-diverse business units had a 19% higher average quarterly net profit. 

Diversity matters because it improves engagement, enhances productivity, and enables the organization to capitalize on women’s unique perspectives to problem-solving. Organizations cannot ignore 50 percent of the workforce and risk losing out on talent that could provide them with a competitive edge. 

The reasons that make gender diversity important include:

  • Improved innovation capability. A diverse workplace comprising employees with various educational, gender, and racial backgrounds bring different approaches, viewpoints, and perspectives to problem-solving. Diversity boosts creativity and innovation. A homogenous team with uniformity of thoughts is less likely to be innovative.
  • Superior problem-solving abilities. The multiplicity of ideas and perspectives in a diverse workplace empowers it to uncover unique solutions to problems. The team can leverage differing viewpoints to arrive at informed decisions. Multiple views enable the team to analyze data and devise efficient solutions to problems.  
  • Skill set expansion. Individuals with diverse skill sets and competencies, working together, create a mutually enriching work environment. Individuals can grow their skill set by learning from their teammates through osmosis. Team members typically add skills to their repertoire- communication, negotiation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. This benefits the organization through improved productivity and superior organizational performance.
  • Improved business performance. When skilled individuals in a diverse workforce collaborate, the organization has a decisive competitive advantage over business rivals. Such teams’ complete projects efficiently – enabling the organization to seek and win more projects. All of this gives boost to the revenue and profits – improving business performance. According to a McKinsey report, higher representation of women increases the chances of business outperformance. The report found that the likelihood of outperformance was a significant 48 percent difference between the most and the least gender-diverse businesses. 
  • Enhanced employee engagement. Gender diversity in teams fosters a healthy exchange of ideas – increasing employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive and work more diligently to attain set goals. Engaged employees are also more committed to the organization, which boosts retention and reduces employee turnover. 
  • Improved corporate brand. Gender-diverse teams enhance the business’s brand value and reputation, which helps attract top talent. The most skilled individuals aspire to work in diverse teams for personal and professional growth. A diverse team can also engage with diverse customers, understand their varied needs, and serve the customers better – improving customer satisfaction. 
  • Heightened morale. Engaged, productive, and motivated teams are generally happier and more content in their work and work environment. This feeling is contagious and affects the other team members positively, raising the team’s overall morale. Motivated teams also positively influence other teams, boosting overall organizational morale. 

10 Methods to Instill Gender Diversity in the Workplace 

  1. Seek Out Gender-Diverse Candidates. For building a diverse workforce and instilling a culture of diversity, it is important to source a workforce that is gender-diverse proactivelyDuring hiring, insist on having a shortlist that has diverse candidates. Here, gender diversity should not be restricted to the binary framework of male and female but also include transgender individuals. This can be done by accessing sourcing platforms meant for underrepresented groups. Also, look for people who, for example, list their membership in LGBTQ organizations in the profile. Then institute a gender-blind, transparent interview process to select the best candidate based on merit. 

Gender inequities can be particularly sharp during informal recruitment processes. According to an HBR research report, making the shortlist longer helps address the problem of gender inequity. The report suggests that adding three more candidates to the shortlist improves the female-to-male ratio from 1:6 with the original shortlist to 1:4 with the longer shortlist. 

The opportunity to work in a diverse workplace is important for many individuals. Posting gender-neutral roles help attract gender-diverse candidates. Also, a diverse interview panel comprising members of all genders signals an inclusive workplace and helps attract a diversity of candidates.

  1. Get Educated About Implicit Bias And Gender Discrimination. Implicit gender bias leads to gender discrimination and is a significant barrier to achieving gender diversity and women’s career advancement. It is also challenging to identify and prevent. To foster a culture of diversity, the leadership and hiring teams in the organization need to be educated on implicit biases and gender discrimination arising from traditions, norms, values, culture, experience, etc. These biases that keep workplaces from getting gender diverse can be prevented through:
  • Blind evaluation – Masking a candidate’s gender helps prevent implicit bias from influencing the selection process.
  • Structured recruitment and performance review – A structured recruitment process and structured interviews ensure that all candidates are evaluated according to pre-determined criteria. 
  • Transparency ad Accountability – Transparency and accountability in the recruitment process and other initiatives ensure a broad pool of candidates is considered for promotion and evaluated objectively.
  1. Complete A Gender Pay Gap Analysis. A US department of labor study found that for every dollar man earned, women earned only 82 cents. If the aim is to hire the best talent, the terms of compensation must be fair. This can be ensured by having a formal employee compensation policy. The policy should use data to determine compensation levels for each position. The factors used to define the compensation levels must include length and quality of experience, skills, education, and record of past performance. The compensation policy should also lay down the performance parameters and development opportunities. Such transparent policies and practices will help eliminate the gender-based pay gap. 
  2. Have Employees Participate In Unconscious Bias Training. It is common for everyone to carry some unconscious biases, even if we do not realize it. Identifying and eliminating such biases is the first step toward building a diverse workplace. Even a bias created by your first impression may persist through the interview process and negatively impact a candidate. It skews the selection decision resulting in the selection of a less than appropriate person. To guard against such negative impacts of biases, hiring teams should learn to recognize them and base hiring decisions purely on a set of fair and objective criteria. 
  3. Make Gender Equality A Consistent Part Of The Conversation. For progressive organizations, inclusiveness is fundamental to enhancing gender and overall diversity to boost financial results and improve organizational performance. To be able to hardwire gender diversity in the organization, it is important to ensure that gender equality becomes a consistent part of the conversation. The conversation on gender quality cannot be sporadic – restricted, for example, to a one-time training event, etc. It should be a part of everyday conversation and incorporated into every activity in the organization. 
  1. Promote More Women Into Leadership. More women in leadership positions do more for gender diversity than most other means by demonstrating the organization’s commitment to diversity. Having women lead men allows people to discover different working and leadership styles. Women leading men encourages empathy and cooperation and fosters a greater understanding of each other as people. 
  2. Know The Difference Between Equality And Equity. Before working on and championing gender diversity, it is important to understand the difference between gender equality and equity. Gender equality ensures equal outcomes for women, men, and gender-diverse people. On the other hand, gender equity is the means to achieving gender equality. Gender equity acknowledges that women and gender-diverse individuals are in a disadvantageous starting position compared to men. This stems from reasons that have historical and social basis. Treating women and gender-diverse individuals on par with men might not be fair. Gender equity measures ensure that the playing field is leveled. 
  3. Educate Senior Leadership. Like any other change initiative, it must be driven from the top for the gender diversity initiative to be successful. This requires that the leadership buys into the idea and is knowledgeable about the importance of gender diversity and its benefits to the organization. Training programs on diversity help leaders understand how diversity impacts peoples’ work and interactions at work. The training should be customized for the specific organization, its diversity and inclusion goals, and its challenges. The leaders should then communicate the importance of gender diversity and how it furthers the organization’s goals to the employees to keep everyone committed to the cause.
  4. Evaluate Work Assignments. The nature and quality of assignments significantly impact gender equity in the workplace. Work assignments can be a powerful means of propelling employees’ professional growth. Traditionally, there has been a gender gap in the type of assignments entrusted to women. Assignments with a large scope, greater visibility, and strategic importance are largely assigned to men. Promotability often depends on a record of having led challenging work assignments. This sets up a vicious cycle that denies women the opportunity to get ahead. It is important, therefore, for more deliberation in work assignments to ensure gender equity.
  5. Practice Social Inclusion. Social inclusion enables equal access and opportunities by removing the barriers of discrimination that stop women and other disadvantaged sections of society, such as the physically challenged, non-binary genders, indigenous people, religious minorities, refugees, etc., from being equal participants in the workplace and society. Providing women and other disadvantaged sections of society equal opportunities at work and representation in decision-making will enable sustainable gender diversity. 

Conclusion

Providing employees with an inclusive and equitable workplace boosts performance. Diversity in the workplace clears the path for expressing diverse ideas, voices, and perspectives. A diverse and inclusive culture provides these voices equal opportunities to be heard and carried forward to create newer and better solutions. 

uExcelerate helps improve gender diversity through the development of strong in-house coaching capability to build awareness and help in the adaptation of principles of diverse work culture. uExcelerate‘s ‘Women Leadership Program’, a tailored program for women leaders in the making, has been created to address the issue of gender diversity in the workplace.

Here, you can register for our upcoming panel discussion on ‘Women Leadership and how organizations are creating gender-neutral leadership roles’.

Would you like to sign up for a discovery call and explore how coaching can help you as a leader build gender diversity in your team? Write to us at – [email protected]

uExcelrate’s AI-powered SaaS platform powers coaching at scale to help organizations build a sustainable diversity program. Interested in learning more about our platform? Click here to book a demo.

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