Introduction to Discrimination Based on Gender Identity
We have been trying to close the gender gap for decades, and yet, gender discrimination is still everywhere, in every country, in every industry, and likely in your own company. From unequal wages to micro-aggressions based on gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual identity and barriers to the advancement of women into leadership positions, these types of discrimination are very hard to eradicate.
Business leaders and HR professionals can use a variety of tools to minimize gender discrimination in the workplace. The strategies you can implement include establishing leadership programs for women, tracking and analyzing salaries by gender, and eliminating gender bias in your recruiting processes.
Fortunately, modern HR management systems can help you streamline these processes to reduce gender discrimination in the workplace.
Addressing this problem has been a focus for policymakers for over 150 years. As early as 1872, the US Congress passed a law that guaranteed equal pay for women employed by the federal government. The 1964 Civil Rights Act granted equal rights to women in the workforce, and a 1991 amendment allowed them to sue their employers for sexual harassment. Many other countries have followed suit.
Southeast Asian nations have recently made remarkable strides to close the gender gap in labor markets. Singapore, in particular, has been praised for “actively encouraging women to pursue higher-level management roles.” These efforts have resulted in a higher percentage of women sitting on the boards of the nation’s top 100 publicly traded companies.
Despite all these public and private efforts, gender inequality and discrimination continue to creep into workplaces in a number of ways.
Gender discrimination in the workplace in numbers
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, it will take at least 132 years to effectively close the gender gap on a global scale. “As crises are compounding,” WEF analysts wrote, “women’s workforce outcomes are suffering, and the risk of global gender parity backsliding further intensifies.”
The Pew Research Center recently reported that white women in the US only earn $0.84 for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, with Black and Latina women earning even less.
A 2020 United Nations study spanning 75 countries concluded that about 90% of people “hold some sort of bias against women,” a clear indication that demolishing these invisible barriers to gender equality may prove more difficult than implementing the right policies to shatter the proverbial ‘glass ceiling.’
Discrimination based on sexual identity can be as challenging as discrimination against women. 46% of LGBTQ+ workers report having experienced unfair treatment in the workplace according to a UCLA study published in 2021.
What is Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?
Workplace gender discrimination can take many forms. Basically, it means that an employee or job applicant is treated less favorably based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
You may also encounter instances of gender discrimination where the victims are also discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity. For example, if a top performer who happens to be a woman of color cannot is passed up for a promotion despite her high performance, she may be facing a mix of gender discrimination and racial bias.
A woman who does the same work as a man for a lower salary is a typical example of gender discrimination in the workplace. Women and LGBTQ+ people also suffer many forms of harassment at work. Sexual harassment tends to make more headlines, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Other common forms of harassment include inappropriate remarks, condescending statements, verbal abuse, and impossible demands and deadlines.
How Gender Discrimination in the Workplace Perpetuates the Glass Ceiling
When people are experiencing gender discrimination, it becomes nearly impossible for them to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. As of early 2023, only 10% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, and this is considered a triumph. We must not forget that the percentage was 0.0% in 1995 and only 3% in 2010.
Naturally, when your company’s employees look at these numbers, while also seeing few women in senior positions in their own departments, they may be discouraged. As a business leader or HR specialist, it is your job to show these women that there is room for them at the top.
Every year, women graduate from prestigious universities at a higher rate than men, yet men continue to reach CEO or board positions more frequently. Income parity is like a pipe dream, and some of the top companies in the world are still struggling to change the status quo.
Types of Workplace Gender Discrimination
Unchecked gender discrimination in the workplace creates a hostile work environment for women and LGBTQ+ people. While it is impossible to enumerate all the possible forms of gender discrimination, the list below will give you an idea of its many, constantly evolving forms.
Qualified applicants not being hired due to gender bias or a mix of gender and racial bias
Systematically seeking men for higher-paying jobs
Having employees who get paid less to do the same job as an equally qualified person of a different gender/sexual identity or sexual orientation. For example, a cis, heterosexual man getting paid more than a trans woman, a cis woman, or a gay man
People being held to higher performance standards based on their gender identity
Requiring people’s outward appearance or behavior to conform to traditional standards of femininity or masculinity. For example, referring to assertive women as “aggressive” while describing aggressive men as “strong leaders” in performance evaluation. Another example of this type of gender discrimination is expecting women to wear makeup in order to be deemed “professional”
People being denied opportunities such as raises, promotions, training, and leadership programs, which are offered to equally qualified employees of a different gender or sexual orientation
Taking disciplinary action against people of a certain gender, while people of a different gender are never disciplined for the same behavior
Verbal abuse and hostile remarks related to sexual identity or gender identity
Ignoring an employee’s gender identity, referring to them using the wrong pronouns or by the name they used before a gender transition
Refusing to hire or promote a woman because she is pregnant
Sexual Harassment: Subjecting employees of a specific gender to unwanted sexual advances, requesting sexual favors, and making comments of a sexual nature. Women have traditionally been the target of sexual harassment, but it can happen to anyone
7 Steps to Eliminating Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
There are many steps you can take to create a diverse and inclusive work environment that is free from systemic gender discrimination. A truly inclusive workplace must take into account the unique needs of women, who are still the prime caregivers for young children and older adults and continue to have more responsibilities at home. For example, women who are pregnant or have young children feel more included when companies offer more flexible schedules.
Hire more women and focus on diversity in the recruiting process
Recruitment is where it all begins. Ensure your job descriptions are inclusive enough, and try to attract candidates of different genders. You can automate the key stages of the selection process to eliminate gender bias.
Statistics show that only 1 in 4 C-suite executives are women. For this reason, it is vital to foster diversity when recruiting for higher management and executive positions. When you hire more women for senior roles, this can contribute to changing the culture and reducing gender bias throughout your organization.
Focus on flexibility and childcare access
Research has shown that women experience employee burnout at a higher rate than men. In one study, 1 in 3 women said they were considering quitting their jobs or downgrading to a lower-responsibility position.
If you offer schedule flexibility, access to quality childcare, remote or hybrid work, and other options that can help them achieve work-life balance, highly qualified women will likely be motivated to stay in your company and rise through the ranks. Without flexibility and truly inclusive policies, mothers seldom have a sufficient incentive to focus on their careers.
Enforce equal pay
Develop and implement a strict equal pay policy. Eliminate gender bias from job descriptions, especially in calls for applicants. Address any salary disparities before hiring new employees. Monitor compensation regularly and ensure transparency regarding salary ranges.
Because so many businesses have problems in this area, a culture of equal pay and transparency can make your company very attractive for top candidates.
Implement fair promotion procedures
Hiring women for senior management and C-suite positions is great, but promoting from within can be even better. When you promote highly qualified women into the top jobs, you are sending a message that there is no glass ceiling and women can expect to be rewarded for their performance.
Ultimately, implementing transparent and fair promotion procedures creates an incentive for employees of all genders.
Implement diversity, gender bias, and gender discrimination training
One of the key tools in fighting discrimination is through education. Implement training to address implicit gender bias and help employees detect instances of gender discrimination.
This type of training can set the tone regarding what is acceptable within your organization, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Gender discrimination training should be a regular occurrence. A few sessions once in a blue moon won’t be enough. These programs should be constantly upgraded to reflect current trends and policies, and employees should be required to attend them at least once a year
Companies that are striving to prevent gender discrimination in the workplace must integrate diversity and inclusion goals into their business strategies. Managers should be held accountable when targets are not met. This requires tracking and analyzing data about gender discrimination, pay gaps, and harassment complaints.
When you come across reports of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment, these must be thoroughly investigated, and your company must take action against the people who violated company policies. As much as you may train your teams about gender stereotypes and try to promote a discrimination free environment, if the higher-ups still get away with breaking the rules, few people are going to take your policies seriously.
Build diverse and inclusive teams
One of the best ways to reduce gender discrimination is by fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. Especially in some areas like IT, women are sometimes surrounded by male colleagues, which can feel isolating. Studies have shown that women who work in the company of other women are less likely to feel undervalued or experience harassment. “Women who are ‘Onlys’ [the only woman in a team] and ‘double Onlys’ [the only woman and the only person of their race in a team] have a much worse experience,” McKinsey analysts wrote in a report.
Women, LGBTQ+ persons, and people from all backgrounds must feel supported in the workplace. They need to feel that there is space for them to grow and that their colleagues and supervisors want them to succeed.
How to Build an Equitable Workplace with Omni's Performance Reviews
Advanced Human Resource Management Systems like Omni can help you and your company efficiently tackle gender discrimination. By streamlining processes and gathering valuable insights through data analytics, our HRMS can provide an ideal framework for businesses invested in closing the gender gap and fostering happier, more productive teams.
Automate performance reviews to reduce gender bias
Omni allows you to design, schedule, and run performance reviews that can provide vital insights to inform decisions about promotions and other opportunities. Review questions can be customized to eliminate gender bias, allowing employees to move up the corporate ladder based on their performance rather their gender or their sexual identity.
Streamline the hiring process to reduce gender discrimination and bias
With AI-powered recruiting and on-boarding processes, HRMS can help reduce gender bias. You can input the skills and characteristics you are looking for and obtain a list of suitable candidates. When you program your HMRS to disregard gender, you eliminate bias and ensure the best applicants can be selected.
Track women’s and LGBTQ+ employees’ career progression
Omni’s integrated end-to-end employee lifecycle management allows you to track career progression. You can learn whether men are advancing faster than similarly placed women and whether the company is providing fewer career development opportunities for women and employees who identify as LGBTQ+. The system will collect all the necessary data to help you address these issues.
Establish inclusive leadership programs and succession planning
You can use our HRMS to plan for succession and create opportunities for all qualified employees, regardless of their gender. Use Omni to find suitable candidates for leadership programs to eliminate gender bias from the equation.
Implement robust policies on gender discrimination
Women routinely report encountering sex discrimination in the workplace or when applying for jobs. When it comes to establishing strict policies against gender discrimination and sexual harassment, Omni’s centralized, data-driven systems can be instrumental in facilitating implementation and detecting violations.
Gender-based discrimination is going to take many decades to eradicate. With Omni’s HRMS, your company can pioneer the new era of equal opportunity and equal pay.
Our advanced HR management tools can deliver instant insights about gender discrimination in the workplace, the gender pay gap, and any discriminatory behavior that may be taking place in your business. If you use these insights to address any issues and streamline your recruitment processes with Omni’s unbiased systems, you can take your company to the next level.
Creating a discrimination-free environment can help you attract and retain top talent, making your company more competitive in today’s fast-paced market. Omni’s scalable, all-in-one employee management software can help your business automate and streamline the most complex administrative HR functions so you can consistently build high-performing, diverse, and inclusive teams.
To learn more about how Omni can help you build a culture of inclusion, book a demo with our team today.