When organizations close gender pay gaps a number of employees, most often women, see their income increasing. This results in greater financial stability not just in the present, but in the long run as their investment and retirement capital potential increases. Such short-term and long-term financial stability can be directly attributed to closing the gender pay gap precisely because it makes available more disposable income for spending, investment and retirement.
This is a phenomenal positive effect of the pursuit for workplace gender equality.
With women globally earning around 37% less1 than men in similar roles, the differences between what a woman can buy and invest compared to a man are not only very consequential but also unfair.
Better access to childcare
A second benefit is equally significant – greater access to childcare and a redistribution of care responsibilities.
This is because such responsibilities directly affect a woman’s career trajectory and income; women are less likely to put in long hours and are more likely to take leave to care for children or sick family members. They are also much more likely to take career breaks.
Organizations pursuing gender equity know that supporting a redistribution of care responsibility is key for women’s career prospects and income.
EDGE Certified organizations commit to provide assistance with childcare. They also make sure that in helping with childcare they make it equally available not just for women but for men as well.
Redefined gender roles
Such organizations also provide for equal, if not very comparable, lengths of paid paternity and maternity leave – a third benefit. But they go further and ensure that fathers are actively encouraged to take the full length of paid paternity leave available to them.
This not only allows women to have smoother career trajectories, but it also allows men to have the same type of ‘stop and go’ careers as women, helping to level the playing field. Plus, from the outset, this sends signals that parental leave is not a gender issue, it is a parental issue.
And this is how beneficial paternity leave can be. Fathers that took leave after birth believe this was directly responsible for their greater involvement in the ongoing care of their child compared to those that didn’t. They also believe that paternity leave led to improvements in the quality of family life2.
But let’s not forget that women with children who work are termed ‘working mothers’. Men in the same situation are not, however, called ‘working fathers’. Instead, they are called ‘professional men’. By not allowing fathers to be termed ‘working’ they risk losing their entitlement to take parental leave.
The solution lies in creating support groups for working fathers where senior management discuss the role of the working father; doing this equalizes the concept of working men with that of a working mother.
And so, with more women in positions of power and authority, more men will be in support roles, or working part time, more equally shared care responsibilities, and we will all learn to rip off the straitjacket of traditional gender roles from work and the home.
So, next time when you apply for a job, ask what the organization is doing to achieve workplace gender equality. Your career development prospects, whether you are a man or a woman, will be very different depending on what the answer is. Next time you decide to invest in a company, or buy products and services from a company, ask what they do to ensure women and men thrive in the workplace. The prosperity of our economy and well-being of our society depends on it.
2Ellison et al., 2009. 56% of British fathers who took Paternity Leave believe this was directly responsible for their greater involvement in the care of their children in the longer term; and 69% said it led to improvements in the quality of family life.