Embracing equity to balance an unbalanced work world calls on us to examine policies and practices affecting women at work to ensure the systems in place provide adequate support.
March is Women’s History Month – a recognition and celebration of the often-overlooked contributions of women in arts, culture, science, and, well, nearly every facet of life really.
It’s 2023 and women are leading nations, winning the Nobel Prize, being immortalized on currency and accomplishing many other remarkable achievements previously unattainable to “the fairer sex.” Heck, a visibly pregnant Rihanna headlined the Super Bowl halftime show! All this in a world of self-driving cars, AI and the James Webb telescope.
Yet, despite significant progress for women and society, young women entering the workforce today still expect to make less money than men after graduating, according to a recent Gen Z salary transparency report by Handshake.
Gender pay disparity is hardly new and it is certainly not unique to Gen Z. The reality is women expect to make less than men because they do. According to Statistics Canada, women make 89 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women who are a visible minority, the gap is even wider.
Pay disparity of a symptom of a gender-biased work world, much like sexual harassment and fewer women leaders.
To combat it, we’re called upon to embrace equity. It’s this year’s theme for International Women’s Day and a rallying cry for those supporting Canada’s youth in the workforce to think about, know and value in their role.
To be clear, equity is not the same as equality. Here’s the difference: equality gives young women and young men the same access to resources and opportunities as they embark on their budding careers. Equity, however, recognizes that women face unique barriers and have different workplace experiences and needs than men, and therefore require a different approach to have the same ability to thrive in the workforce.
To put it another way, the difference has been described well as “equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a show that fits.”
Embracing equity to balance an unbalanced work world calls on us to examine policies and practices affecting women at work to ensure the systems in place provide adequate support. This includes every stage of career development, including which jobs and industries young women are encouraged to pursue, removing gender-biased interview questions, providing appropriate access to professional development and learning opportunities, ensuring representation of women across organizations and at all levels and more.
At a time when Canada’s unemployment rate is at a near record low and employers are competing for talent, equity helps attract and retain women who can move business forward. In return, they expect authentic and complete inclusion.
A McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace article noted young women “place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace.” The article also says “Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen and ambitious young women are prepared to the do the same.”
By embracing equity, we give everyone, including women, what they need to be successful and Canada’s economy benefits in the process.