How to Avoid Gender Discrimination & Employee Turnover
A little girl asking Hilary Clinton if she will be paid the same as a male president, and pay discrimination being investigated for the first time in professional sports brings more awareness and consequently will be the issue to watch this year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of women in the workplace continues to rise and currently represents 57.7 percent of all workers. Nevertheless, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has seen a rise in the amount of cases involving gender discrimination. Discrimination cases present a significant cost to your business, not just in fines and legal fees for EEOC involved cases, but through disengagement, distracted employees, and voluntary turnover of talented workers.
Innovative organizations are taking a proactive approach to attracting and retaining talented female employees. A big part of what they do well is in equality. However, we find the best practices apply to the workforce as a whole. Here are our favorite six points to address in your workplace.
Read These Six Reasons Your Workplace May Not Be As Friendly As You Think.
(1) No Equal Representation of Pay and Gender . Women are earning post-secondary degrees at a faster rate than men, yet wage gaps in upper management persist.
- Maintain full transparency with positions and salaries.
- Create detailed job descriptions, the salary range, requirements, job duties, years of experience and other qualifications that are needed to reach additional $1,000 to $5,000 increments of pay advancement.
- Have your financial director partner with you in creating a long term plan towards equalization.
- Convince your CEO to view your departments as a interdisciplinary team working together to solve a problem, rather than HR as a silo entity.
(2) Poor Workplace Flexibility. Google Chief Financial Officer’s resignation to “grab our backpacks and hit the road” exemplifies that work life balance is not a gender specific issue and warrants your attention.
- Studies consistently show that employees working for managers who are sensitive to work and personal life feel significantly more motivated to exceed expectations than their counterparts.
- Flexibility can take many forms and still cover the work needs of your business. Companies have found success with programs that offer varying schedules (start & end times, breaks, compressed workweeks), flexible hours (part-time, job sharing, phased retirement, part year work), mobile locations (telework, alternative work sites), and sabbatical style time off (short term, episodic, extended, time banking).
- Consider implementing “substitutable” work so your employees share work. Team projects, pairing senior level employees as a mentor with junior level employees, and coordinated technology all maintain overlapping interactions conducive to a flexible workplace, Behson, S., 2014.
- An environment with clear and documented productivity measures and established goals creates trust that flexible arrangements will produce positive business results.
(3) Lacking Career Customization. If you have a good employee, make sure to keep them. There is always more to be done, and any strategic, competitive organization will identify a new role.
- As you notice stressed areas of your operations, create a catalogue of various jobs that could be filled by employees facing unique situations. A pregnant women, or anyone else facing a life-changing event, could be your best asset for long-term success.
- As employees’ skills and career goals evolve, either promote or shift these workers to another department in your company. As Jim Collins reports in his book Good to Great, “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
(4) Inability to Communicate Career Goals With You. When an employee approaches you for accommodations, there may be an opportunity for further conversation about mutually beneficial plans.
- Foster an environment that allows employees to share long-term career goals and include life plans such as educational pursuits, health, and family. This can benefit both the organization and employee by saving time, money, and potential turnover.
- If your employees feel heard and feel they can be open and honest about who they are and what they want, then they will feel more empowered and committed to staying with you. Maintain an open, honest and safe relationship and you will be astounded by their steadfast commitment to you.
(5) Inadequate Harassment Procedural Processes. Begin with a workplace that promotes a respectful culture with more frequent training and awareness.
- To minimize risk, train managers on how to respond to employees’ concerns about harassment.
- Standardize your reporting and response
by following these 5 steps (1) Employees need a process to report problems and concerns that can be archived (2) The company should regiment the evaluation and response procedures (3) Involve compliance partners and attorneys early (4) Establish progressive disciplinary processes (5) Document everything.
(6) Tolerance of Retaliation. When employees’ communicate a behavior they find offensive or uncomfortable, it is an opportunity for your organization to discover inefficiencies, reduce risks, address conflicts and explain turnover.
- Track trends and issues such as: undesirable reassignments, demotions, firing, changes in compensation, suspicious hiring, and promotions.
- Detailed evidence of your prevention efforts will save your company from contagious employee morale disintegration and significant financial loss.
By: Kristen Goodell, M.Ed, Co-Owner
Kristen converts inefficient compliance management systems and siloed technology into a dynamic workflow with end to end client support: RFP, selection, implementation, and adoption. Through our implementation process we reveal areas of hidden risk and produce new best practices for your compliance management team.