Globally, it’s a proven fact that hiring and promotions are the two biggest wheels that drive change when it comes to representation of women at the workplace. What’s worrying is that organisations, even now, are not seriously considering hiring and promoting women in an equal space. The problem which arises at the root — entry level — shoots right up the ladder to leadership positions.

A recent study revealed that a majority of multinationals are not following the required protocol to ensure there’s more diversity and fair representation of women at work.

Lack of end-to-end processes in place to ensure fair practices

Studies reveal that one in three companies sets targets with regard to diversity for hiring and promotions processes. It’s shocking to witness that in a world where the level of professional workplace culture has risen,  only one in four companies uses tools that help reduce bias while reviewing résumés. This, despite being established that most reviewers do not consider giving equal opportunity to women, underrepresented groups, and people of colour across the world.

Requiring a diverse slate of candidates is one of many strategies that will minimise the adverse impact of gender dynamics on women’s advancement.

Fewer than half of the companies use diverse slates of candidates for external hiring and only a quarter use the process for internal promotions. Sometime back, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced they will be applying a diverse slate approach to new board appointments. After sustained criticism for its lack of diversity, the tech giant came up with this consideration. Facebook has already started using this approach for hiring employees.

It’s a logical approach that contributes to more women being selected, to say the least. The research of Iris Bohnet of the Kennedy School explains that comparing women and men in hiring pools solely based on performance minimises the risk of evaluating on basis of dynamics such as bias, assumptions, and stereotypes.

It’s also crucial to track outcomes. Tracking and evaluating helps organisations become aware of whether or not they are treating candidates fairly

Several organisations are far less likely to track bias in reviewal of performances. Performance reviews are integral to deciding who gets promoted and who doesn’t, therefore, ensuring that hiring managers are unbiased and is vital.

What we can learn from Airbnb

Airbnb, an online marketplace and hospitality service, is making both women and men progress through their employee pipeline at similar rates. The company made this possible by enabling changes to their performance evaluation process to completely dismantle bias.

Working with Stanford University’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, the company updated its criteria used in evaluations by adding a five-point rating scale to the questions on their review form. The new criteria now require managers, and peers to think critically about their assessments. This certainly leads to fairer opportunities and, thus, outcomes.

The company continues to track and analyse promotion rates of employees to make sure there are no unexplained gender differences.

To ensure the new assessment criteria is used effectively, the company introduced an animated video and tip cards which help educate managers about unconscious bias. This, and more such tools are been used in sessions with hundreds of managers involved.

There’s always plenty of evidence proving that it’s diversity in the workplace which helps a business grow. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that gender-diverse companies outperform others financially by 15 per cent. It also showed that ethnically diverse workplaces outperform by as much as 35 per cent. However, despite evidence, there is still an unfortunate gap between the number of men and women in the workplace, especially further up the leadership ladder. Let’s take a deeper look at barriers causing this.

In a conversation with SheThePeople.TV, economist Dr Shamika Ravi suggested that it’s equality in opportunity which is much more important than equality in outcome. “It is crucial for young girls to see female mentors,” she said, adding that the female labour force “remains an under-exploited potential in our country” and this is where work has to begin.

Several hurdles result in abrupt gender representation

Another baseless factor resulting in inequality at the workplace is the wage gap that’s prevalent globally. If we talk about India, it’s worse. Despite seeing the highest average real wage growth in South Asia during 2008–17, India recorded the highest gender wage gap at 34 per cent, according to the Global Wage Report 2018/19.

“In many countries, women are more highly educated than men but earn lower wages, even when they work in the same occupational categories,” said Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, econometrician and wage specialist at the ILO and one of the authors of the report.

Studies reveal how, even today, there are numerous barriers stopping women from achieving senior positions at work. Research shows that India ranks the third lowest when it comes to having women in leadership roles.

A recent survey showed that most women CEOs are slightly older than their male counterparts, because it takes them 30 per cent longer than men to reach the top position. It’s barriers like biased expectation, stereotype norms, absence of role models, and the failure in changing patriarchal mindset, which serve as a direct blow to women’s career progression.

Unless organisations follow protocols determining fair treatment of employees and practise the culture of hiring and promoting women at the same rates as men, there won’t be any progress in the quest to attain equality and diversity at the workplace.

Also Read: India Sees Wage Growth, But Records Highest Gender Wage Gap: ILO

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