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Gender Equality in the Small Business Workplace

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    As your small business grows and you begin to hire employees, it’s important to note the issue of gender equality in the American workforce. In a survey released by Randstad US, 78% of respondents reported that everyone should be treated equally despite race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or religion. But the sad fact is that 56% of females and 52% of males reported instances of bias within their workplaces.
    Gender equality in particular has long been a topic of discussion. In 2014, American women were paid about 20-25% less than what their male counterparts were paid. But issues of equality go deeper than compensation. Overall, there is a scarcity of women in leadership roles in the American workforce. One example of this is in education. Although women make up 60% of both undergraduate and masters degrees, only 26% of universities and colleges have female presidents.
    In the survey conducted by Randstad, 58% of women reported biased promotions to leadership positions. And despite 80% of females surveyed saying they would quit their jobs in favor of better gender equality, the choices seem limited. With this in mind, making sure your small business treats members of both genders equally and provides both with equal pay and chance of advancement might mean your business will have a greater likelihood of success. Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to out perform their competitors.
    The reasons for this are complicated, but there are two obvious ones that should be noted. First, it may be because employees who feel like everyone is treated equally work harder and those businesses where equality is not an issue suffer less turn over. The second reason is that the best candidates for the job—regardless of gender or any other factor—are in those positions. Meaning that a more suitable female candidate for advancement will not be overlooked in favor of a male associate. Whatever the reason, the potential benefits of gender equality within a small business are clear.
    There are a few easy ways to start implementing gender equality into your small business right away. The first of these is flexibility and set schedules. Depending on the needs of your business, these two key factors are easy to incorporate. Flexibility allows employees who are the primary ones who handle childcare (which are mainly women) to work from home, leave early, or otherwise change their schedules in order to take care of last minute problems that may arise. On the other hand, set schedules allow those same primary parents to be able to schedule things in advance such as doctor appointments. Equality Training is just as easy to implement and just as important of a way to make sure your small business is equal opportunity. This means making sure your managers are properly trained to treat everyone fairly despite gender. This can be done through sensitivity training and making clear protocols.
    The most important thing to remember about gender equality is to make things equal but not the same. Equality does not mean that if one employee asks for a more flexible schedule, their request should be denied because other employees do not have the same flexibility. It DOES mean the same thoughtful consideration for advancement, scheduling, and compensation should be treated with equal weight.

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