It's essential to the progress and development of any business, yet a lack of gender diversity in the workplace is still an all-too-common problem perpetuated by unconscious bias and archaic ideals. This despite gender-diverse workplaces reporting better performance, more harmonious working environments and greater job satisfaction among their people.
Men and women tend to think, feel and see things differently, which on a very basic level provides a wider pool of insight and ideas for companies to work with. Gender-diverse companies are also seen to be better at looking after their workforce and tend to record higher job satisfaction and staff retention.
What is gender diversity?
Gender diversity is about having a more even split of men and women across roles and teams within a company.
As more and more women forgo traditional roles of homemaking and raising children, there has been a rapid increase in women joining the labour market and sharing their expansive talents, experience and insight with hiring businesses.
To catch up to this, many businesses are now making an active choice to change the way they advertise and recruit in order to attract more women into their teams.
It's important to remember that true gender diversity doesn't simply mean a 50/50 split of men and women in a workforce. It means having just as many women as men in leadership or change-making positions.
Gender diversity is a particular problem in industries that are traditionally seen as more male – such as tech and science – and as a result many big firms have stepped up efforts to change the way they hire and promote careers in these fields to women.
Why is gender diversity important in the workplace?
Gender bias is incredibly common and problematic, and stands in the way of the many benefits that businesses report when they have a more even split of men and women in the workplace.
Firstly, women bring different opinions, insights, experience and skills to the table. And companies that capitalise on this see a positive effect on everything from ideas generation to achieving company-wide objectives.
Having more diverse teams causes a positive ripple effect. Not only will you attract a better pool of talent when you go out to hire, you're also likely to appeal to a broader demographic of consumers and build trust with a wider pool of people. Which in turn has a positive effect on business.
Gender diversity also has a positive impact on the way people perceive the company they work for. Studies report that people employed by diverse companies tend to feel more confident about communicating their needs, are more likely to see career progression and to feel a sense of pride in where they work.
All of these things combine to make happier, more productive and financially successful teams – something every employer should take note of.
Four core benefits of building gender diverse teams
There are a huge range of reasons why building gender diverse teams is so important, and they can vary from company to company.
Here are four of the most significant reasons it makes sense for companies to commit to promoting gender diversity from the moment they write a job advert, right through to building up leadership teams that aren't dominated by men.
1. Financial benefits
Multiple studies have shown that gender diverse workplaces consistently drive greater revenue thanks to happier employees, a wider talent pool and a range of perspectives. In fact, management consultancy company McKinsey reports that gender diverse companies are 21% more likely to report above average profitability.
And companies with over 30% female executives were far more likely to outperform companies with just 10–30% females. Two statistics that as an employer, it's hard to ignore.
2. Increased creativity
A company full of people that look the same, have shared experiences and come from similar backgrounds is far less likely to generate new ideas or progress in a way that ensures they stay one step ahead of the rest. Having a mix of men and women in a workplace can promote healthy debate, fresh perspectives and enhance the creative process.
3. Happier employees
Happy employees make for happier businesses. Firms who prove they're willing to make positive changes to improve gender diversity show they care about the happiness of their employees, which has a positive impact on morale and work output.
Gender diverse workplaces also tend to retain staff longer and good employees are less likely to quit — after it all it makes sense that the happier you are day-to-day and the prouder you feel to work for your company, the less likely you are to look elsewhere.
4. Brand affinity
Building a relatable brand starts from within. Companies that actively embrace diversity in all its forms, including gender diversity, instantly have a broader appeal to consumers, who often look to see that they're represented before placing trust in a brand.
Socially conscious businesses are becoming increasingly important to people, and as a result companies that aren't willing to fix any internal issues and work to do better will be increasingly overlooked in favour of those who do.
Managing gender diversity in the workplace
If you're looking to improve diversity in the workplace, it makes sense to start by assessing gender diversity hiring best practice.
In order to achieve gender diverse teams, companies have to work to remove conscious and unconscious bias from their recruitment processes. Using tech solutions can be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to do this.
Not only can the right software do things such as anonymise CVs, it can also help you to tailor your adverts to appeal to a broader spectrum of people.
Creating employment packages that are equally inviting for women as they are for men is also important. Although not every woman will want the same things or have the same needs from her employer, looking at flexible working, better maternity benefits and lifestyle cost-saving measures can help to improve your attractiveness as a business to new hires.
One of the best ways a company can enhance their appeal to women is to ask women what they could do better. Whether done informally, internally or externally, or by using tools such as surveys or questionnaires, getting real and honest feedback from the kind of people you hope to attract to your company is a quick and easy way to find out what you could do better.
And you never know, you could be presented with ideas you'd never thought of that could make a real and important change to the long-term health of your company.
Measuring and tracking gender diversity will be important to ensure you remain accountable, as is writing gender diversity goals into your strategy or making public declarations about what you intend to do. Positive results are an excellent PR exercise for your company, and can motivate teams to continue to proactively hire gender diverse teams.
While creating a gender diverse workplace may seem like a daunting task, it's undoubtedly an important one. As more and more employees, both male and female, look to work for and buy from businesses who are committed to making positive change socially, those that don't take a look at how they can continually improve will be left behind.