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How to challenge and call out gender inequality this IWD2021

Featuring helpful advice from fantastic women across the Stride ecosystem, this call to arms will help you tackle gender bias and lead by example.

This International Women’s Day, Stride is joining the festivities by taking part in the #ChoosetoChallenge theme and sharing practical advice for overcoming workplace inequality. Featuring helpful advice from fantastic women across the Stride ecosystem, this call to arms will help you tackle gender bias and champion female employees who are fighting discrimination and leading by example.

Celebrate women’s achievements

Use IWD2021 as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the amazing success of your female employees. Feature them in your internal and external comms across all marketing channels so both staff and customers get the opportunity to learn more about the women making a difference at your organisation. Encourage female managers to contribute personal stories of success to your website’s blog that could inspire junior staff and future recruits. By shining a spotlight on your female workforce you can showcase how instrumental women are to your organisation and challenge stereotypes about women’s lack of ability.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives

If you’ve already implemented diversity programmes but are still looking for practical ways to increase gender equality in the workplace, start with addressing internal obstacles. Conduct anonymous employee surveys to gauge whether staff have any feedback on your diversity programme and use that data to review and refine it. Ensure you provide opportunities for promotion internally before advertising for roles externally and have a HR manager on interview panels for objectivity. Finally, make sure you’re regularly promoting your diversity programme internally and providing opportunities for employees to contribute to its success.

Flexi-hours and remote working

With most companies now providing remote working as standard, make sure this method of working is still readily available long after lockdown is over. Often women are responsible for the parenting or care-giving opportunities, so providing flexi-hours could help them achieve a better work/life balance. It’s also worth remembering that when staff clock off for post-work drinks, some mothers and caregivers may be unable to attend regular social events in the evening. Balance things out with daytime events like charity cake mornings and team lunch-dates so all staff members can join in on non-work activities.

Encourage male allyship

To truly achieve female equality, it’s important to include your male workforce in the diversity and inclusion discussion so they can be allies. With movements like #MeToo gaining ground, more men are publicly supporting feminist causes and that matters much more in the workplace. Foundervine’s Steph Lau says “Find and encourage male allies to call out gender discrimination displayed by their male colleagues. A lot of discrimination goes on in spaces where women are not present and importantly the responsibility shouldn’t fall solely on women to police discriminatory behaviour. We need to normalise calling out gender bias, discrimination and inequalities that we see happening around us every day.” 

"It can be tempting to laugh along with the big boys club, but actually, people will respect you more when you stand up to misogyny."

Nicola Whyte, Stride Programme Manager

Create female employee networks

Enable female staff to create a safe space where they can network and offer representation for the female workforce in the event of workplace grievances. Provide them with a budget to organise socials and events, particularly if they want to hire motivational speakers and female leaders to participate in activities. Give them access to virtual forums like Slack channels where they can talk freely and share any workplace concerns they may have. Finally, they should have the opportunity to contribute to any discussions around diversity and inclusion, especially when there are any internal issues. Professor Frances Corner OBE, Warden at Goldsmiths University of London, believes strongly in equal representation to ensure women always have a seat at the table. “There should be women wherever key decisions are being made in any organisation – and if there aren’t, something needs to change,” she added.

Create an inclusive candidate pipeline

If you are struggling to recruit enough diverse candidates, there are plenty of ways you can ensure you are attracting a broad talent pool. Collaborate with social organisations and community hubs that actively work with young women. By offering internships or apprenticeships, you will provide them with essential skills and could in turn develop a pipeline of potential candidates. When it comes to the hiring process, use AI recruitment software to screen candidates based on skills and experience rather than gender. Statistics also suggest that blind applications lead to 5x more female applicants, so bear that in mind when sifting through CVs. Finally, make sure each candidate is treated fairly during interviews by using standardised questions and objective criteria to assess recruits based on skills and expertise alone.


So how can we all play our part in fighting gender inequality? 

We wrap with a final tip from Claudine Adeyemi, founder of Career Ear. 

“Being proactive about challenging gender bias does not mean that you need to become an activist, a founder of a nationwide campaign or the face of any gender equality movement. It starts with one conversation with one individual. Challenge the bias that you see and empower others around you to do the same so that for every individual person that you reach, they have an impact on many, many more. That's how change happens.”

Claudine Adeyemi, founder of Career Ear.