Gender Equality in the Workplace: Mere Company Policy or Basic Human Right?

Casual workplace sexism: from offhand comments to outright discrimination- undermines all good intentions & recent developments in gender diversity.

A recent survey found that 86% of women have experienced sexism at work, and an even higher figure reported receiving discriminatory behavior within their companies at work, ranging from an unfair allocation of work, a lack of promotion opportunities, through to blatant sexual harassment. While modern employment law takes a much more modern to gender equality, has the workplace mentality caught up?

“I’m often subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination at my job” stated one female HR professional in her response. “I’m accused of being too opinionated, and get constant comments on my figure, weight and general appearance, and I am expected to take time of my day to stock up kitchen supplies for the office.”

Why almost two decades into the 12st century do such old habits, stereotypes and prejudices persist? What are companies doing wrong, and more to the point, what can they do to address issues that no amount of legislation, government initiatives or company policies seem able to resolve? The unpleasant truth for many businesses is the very procedures and policies they are introducing to nurture more equality may be achieving the opposite.

If policies and procedures create more of the discrimination they are trying to eliminate, the CIPDs recent push to get HR departments to approach their training from a principles rather than a policies and processes point of view could help. “The basic principle underlying equality in the workplace is affording respect and dignity to everyone. Companies need to make a business case for equality in the workplace are taking the wrong approach, equal opportunities and fairness is a basic human right.” states Bina Kadola, a Business Psychologist & Senior Partner at Pearne Kadola, and we agree with her!