Reading the recent Giving Trends special investigation, A Glimpse Through the Glass Ceiling got me thinking about what more we can do support gender equality in the workforce, not just in the third sector but across the board.
The concept of a “Glass Ceiling” preventing women from advancing to the top rungs of the corporate ladder was first introduced in 1979 by Hewlett-Packard employee, Katherine Lawrence while speaking at a conference for the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. But despite being a widely recognised issue for more than three decades, we are yet to see any significant advances in gender equality for women in the workplace.
While many look to the corporate sector for leadership on this issue, I think that the third sector has an important role to play. As an industry of people passionate about overcoming disadvantage and creating opportunities for change, we are well placed to become leaders in the push for gender equality.
So what can we do better support women working in the third sector and set a good example for corporate Australia? Here are 3 tips to get you started.
- Be Flexible
Flexibility assists women in the work force as it enables them to more easily balance the demands of family and work-life. Many organisations who claim to have flexible working arrangements, really only offer part-time and casual positions. To legitimately claim a flexible working environment, you need to be providing flexibility in;
- hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
- patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
- locations of work (eg. working from home).
It is important that flexible working arrangements are available to all employees at all levels of your organisation. Offering flexible working arrangements to men as well as women, can assist them to take on a more equal role at home, thus supporting the careers of their female partners.
- Be Communicative
Create opportunities to speak with the women in your team about their goals and aspirations. Try to find out how you can better support them and help them identify any areas where they feel they could benefit from development.
Good communication is also the key to making flexible working arrangements run smoothly. It is also wise to have systems and processed in place for communicating with anyone on extended leave, in order to facilitate the transition back to work.
- Be Fair
There is no good reason why men and women should not be paid equal wage for equal job. Therefore we recommend you undertake a pay equity audit to ensure there is no historic discrimination taking place. You should also make sure those working under flexible arrangements are not disadvantaged – for example, paying public holidays pro-rata.
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