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Gender Equity before Gender Equality – Why Women Need More

Gender Equity before Gender Equality – Why Women Need More

What is Gender Equity?

In one of our earlier posts, Implementing Gender Equality at the Workplace, we briefly spoke about the concept of equity, and how gender equity is a precursor to gender equality. In this post we explore the concept of equity in a deeper sense. It is not enough for women to have equal rights. Equality does not put them at the same footing with men. Without really understanding the concept of equity, equality will remain a distant dream. To achieve gender equality, women need more – they need equity.

To address gender discrimination, we first need to acknowledge the deep-rooted history of gender inequality and discrimination world over. In doing so, we realize that women have been deliberately subjected to a backward footing, as compared to men. Hence, more than equality, they need equity. But what is the difference between equality, and equity? Here is a common yet effective anecdote that brings out the difference beautifully –

Imagine that you are at a baseball game and have to look over a fence in order to see the game. There are also several others who are in the same situation as you are. The fence is quite high so everyone needs a stepping stool of some sort to see over the fence. In equality, everyone would get the same sized stepping stool. Thus, one can immediately see a glaring problem! Not everyone is the same height. This is where equity steps in. In being equitable, everyone would get different sized stepping stools so that they could all see over the fence. Everyone would get a chance to view the game.

Positive Discrimination to bring about Gender Equity

One of the ways we can bring about gender equity, is through what has been termed positive discrimination,i.e., the practice of favoring individuals who have suffered historical discrimination. Policies at the work place are one of the most effective instruments of bringing about equity. An effective way to practice positive discrimination to ensure equity for women, is by looking into and analyzing the existing workplace policies.

One way to do this, is to ask questions. Questions are always a great way to begin constructive and meaningful dialogue.

  • Does your organisation promote work from home for women?
  • How inclusive is your organisation when it comes to recruiting women staff who have been on a career break?
  • How fair do you think the over all recruitment policy of your organisation is? Are they transparent about their reasons for rejecting one candidate over another? Are women asked questions like, “are you going to start a family any time soon?”, during the interview process?
  • How high is the glass ceiling in your organization?
  • How stringent are the sexual harassment policies of your organisation?
  • Does your work place have a POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) committee?
  • How about the much debated, and controversial maternity rules – what is your organization’s stand on them?

To understand what a manifestation of gender equity would look like, let us have a look at companies who are leading by example –

Fortune.com has come out with their list of 100 best workplaces for women, and these are the five companies on the top of the list:

  1. Texas Health Resources
  2. Ultimate Software
  3. Edward Jones
  4. Marriott International
  5. Pinnacle Financial Partners

They explain in their methodology of curating this list that factors such as flexibility, paid leave and no harassment are only the basic factors that lend these companies the title of being ‘the best’ work places for women. What are the other factors?

  • Healthy work-life balance
  • Transparency
  • Environment of Inclusion

We don’t need to look to as far as the USA for good practices when it comes to gender equity in the workplace. Some companies in India are leading by example of being the best work spaces for women, some of which are -Accenture, Cummins India, Deloitte in India,  Hindustan Unilever Limited, IBM India, ICICI Bank, Intel Technology India and Mindtree.

Above everything else, the presence or absence of gender equity at your workplace is about the larger culture of the organisation in question. The foundation, and the culture of an organisation is what influences all other factors. At its inception, an organisation or a corporate entity makes a few choices about being fair, or unfair, inclusive or exclusive, supportive and nurturing or extorting. These choices are reflected in the recruitment and human resource policies, and in the larger culture and environment of the organisation.

How would you score your organisation in terms of gender equity? Need ideas for organizing work shops to bring about awareness regarding gender equity at your work place? Write to us and we will be happy to help!

The Importance of Gender Diversity in the World of Work

The Importance of Gender Diversity in the World of Work

We write this post assuming that we have come past the phase where we even refuse to acknowledge that gender inequality at the workplace is a very real problem, which requires an immediate solution. Unfair recruitment, unequal pay, the phenomenon of glass ceiling [The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission describes the term ‘glass ceiling’ as “the unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.”], are all very pertinent issues which hinder gender diversity in the world of work.

Gender diversity at the workplace, is a crucial pre-requisite in the globalized world of work we all inhabit today. And here are only some of the reasons about why it is so important.

  1. Increased organizational performance

    Any organization’s performance is a reflection of the core values and principles of the organization. In other words, the performance of the team is directly related to the organization’s attitude and investments towards the team. One of the most important aspects which have a direct influence on organizational performance is equality and inclusivity. The employees, irrespective of their gender, need to feel like they are equals. It is only then that the motivation and interest to give back to the organization can be sustained within them.

  2. Ability to retain a diverse customer base

    In order to help your business grow, it is important for you to be able to attract and sustain a diverse customer base. It is difficult to be able to meet that requirement unless your employee base in itself reflects gender diversity. It is a fact that men and women perceive things differently, with relation to certain key issues. Diversity in thought at the end of the organization is directly related to how successfully the organization is able to retain a diverse customer / client base. A gender diverse work environment is by default a more engaging and supportive work environment.

  3. Decrease in attrition rates

    One of the most important causes leading to high attrition rates for any organization is inequality, or just the overall work environment which may not be very inclusive. Lack of equality or unfairness breeds dissatisfaction within the workplace, thus contributing to reasons for higher employee turnover or attrition rates. This not only reflects badly on the goodwill of the organization, but is also a rather expensive error to rectify. Workspaces which are more inclusive and fair tend to have lower attrition rates.

  4. A better talent pool

    A more inclusive and diverse work space by default guarantees a richer talent pool. By being gender biased as an organization, you automatically forego a huge chunk of talent. You never know what attributes, and skills you’re missing out on by eliminating or limiting female representation or engagement at various levels in your organization.

  5. Reflection of the organizational culture and values

    As we move towards a more globalized world of work, the values and the principles that organizations play by have started gaining more and more importance. It is exactly these values and principles that set an organization apart from others. It is the culture and the values harbored by an organization which lend to it, its reputation. One of the primary reflections of the same is the factor of gender diversity within an organization. The values of fairness, inclusivity and equality while being the most basic expectations, also paradoxically end up being very rare to find. And surely enough, any organization which boasts of these values, is one worth aspiring to be a part of!


It is an understated fact that we need more women at work, in the world of work. We at OBOlinx are an all women’s team, and have a ton of inspiring ‘women at work’ stories which we would love to share with you. But before that, we would love to bring your stories to the world. Tell us what has worked for you, and what hasn’t worked for you, as a woman at work. You never know who you might end up inspiring and providing hope to, out there!