Did you know that businesses that actively support gender equality make better decisions 87% of the time? Meaning, these businesses ultimately are more efficient.

Yet, despite this, women are still underrepresented in business. Women across the globe occupy less than 10% of senior positions and run only 7% of companies. Suggesting the gender gap is nowhere near closed, and businesses are losing out because of it.

"Women are just as good as men. Businesses should value gender diversity not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because gender diversity brings more abilities and experiences to the workplace.” - Louise Antonas, Head of Talent Acquisition at PlayPlay.

Read on to discover how businesses can better support gender equality, their female co-workers, and how non-gender-bias policies can benefit the growth of your company long-term.

Understanding gender equality and how it impacts business

Before businesses make impactful positive changes, we must have a clear understanding of what gender equality means.

In simple terms, gender equality is when people of all genders have equal rights. This means everyone can experience inequality - women, men, trans and gender diverse people, children and families.

This means that women-friendly policies can benefit men too. And will certainty impact your workplace culture.

So, why is it that despite the fact that 50% of the global university population is women, there’s so little female representation in senior positions?

Let’s take a look.

What happens to women between school and leadership positions?

1. Societal expectations impact skills and self-confidence

Early socialization experiences can shape the way children see themselves, which can impact their self-confidence and their willingness to take risks and pursue leadership positions.

This means that women who have internalized poor self-confidence may face difficulty in asking for promotions and raises compared to men. Showcasing a significant factor that could contribute to why in 2021, full-time, year-round working women earned 84% of what their male counterparts earned on average.

2. The still male-dominated work culture

Numerous studies have shown that men tend to excel in this dominant male culture due to their inherent comfort level, while women may struggle to thrive in this environment that in the end, may discourage them from pursuing leadership positions.

3. Persistent unconscious bias

Unconscious bias refers to implicit and internalized attitudes and stereotypes. These biases can affect decision-making and lead to the promotion of individuals who fit the traditional male leadership stereotypes, rather than those who are equally qualified but don't fit that stereotype. And therefore, negatively impacting your female colleagues' career progressions.

4. Family and caregiving responsibilities

On average women are providing between 6-41% more of their time to childcare and housework than men. This can make it difficult for them to balance work and family responsibilities against their male partners. Therefore causing delays in their professional careers.

Understanding the possible reasons for gender inequalities in the workplace can help us implement the right support and policies for those negatively impacted.

So let’s take a look at how businesses can better support their female colleagues to help them progress in their careers.

10 Ways Businesses can Support Women and Examples of Brands that Do it Well!

Gender-equality can’t take place overnight. But doing so, will not only make you more attractive to top-talent, but will also help you retain the best female talent and stay competitive.

To give you a hand, we’ve combined a list of 10 best ways you can start supporting your female colleagues today with real-life examples of businesses that are already killing it!

1. Gender-neutralize your job adverts

Your future talent’s first contact with your exciting new position is most likely the job advert.

A recent study by a hiring platform, Applied, found that job adverts which use masculine language saw a 10% drop in female candidate applications, and less than half (44%) of the applications were submitted by women. That’s why it’s so important to consider the language and tone you’re using in your job offers.

But how can you adopt gender-neutral language in your ads?

💡 Use tools like Gender Decoder to identify gender-bias in your word choices.

  • Be inclusive. Avoid using gender pronouns — use “s/he" or "you” instead.
  • Avoid superlatives. The overuse of superlatives like "expert," "superior," and "world-class" may discourage candidates who value collaboration over competition. Women tend to be less inclined than men to boast about their achievements.
  • Limit and the number of requirements. Women tend to refrain from applying for a job unless they fulfill all of the qualifications, whereas men are inclined to apply even if they meet only 60% of the requirements.

Example: Johnson & Johnson’s use of inclusive, gender-neutral language in job ads.

The language in this ad is pronoun-free and inviting, words aren’t gender-biased, are superlative-free and requirements are limited and to the point.

And in result, Johnson & Johnson announced a 9% increase in the number of women candidates in a year due to their change in language.

2. Considering other women identities

You must understand the challenges your employees face in order to provide them with policies and benefits packages that will fulfill their needs. To do this, you should gather information from and about your employees so that you can best understand their circumstances. This will help you identify the needs of your women employees better too.

But make sure to look beyond gender, and understand their other identities including marital status, race, culture, sexual orientation, immigrations status, are their mothers, etc. From here you can act with care, consideration and implement policies that benefit everyone.

Unilever’s “United We Stand” campaign is a great example of this. As they used this campaign to showcase support for their trans-gender employees by partnering with 6 large-scale advocacy organizations. Including the Dove campaign where they partnered with film director, Aaron Philip to bring awareness to experiences of those who are underrepresented in media and advertising and show the world that beauty isn’t binary.

Example: Unilever’s Dove LGBTQ+ Campaign.

3. Offer flexible working

Acknowledge that people have lives outside of work and families to look after. Create policies that offer flexibility to out-of-office commitments. Whether that means hybrid, remote working, or offering flexible hours.

This means parents don’t have to worry about school pick-up and other childcare responsibilities. While those without children can benefit from the flexibility in other ways. The key here is to offer flexibility, as life comes up - for those with or without children.

PlayPlay’s flexible working policy is a great example of this. Currently allowing all of our office-based staff to work 3 days from home every week and take a full month off a year to work at home or wherever they like. This policy not only offers flexibility to parents, but those without kids to explore, be creative and deal with their life commitments.

4. Make office space female friendly

Try to understand the unique situations of your employees. Whether they need to breastfeed or face an additional monthly hygiene need — provide them with a safe space to take care of their unique needs.

Consider offering breastfeeding spaces or free hygienic protections. These benefits will help your female employees feel at ease at all times.

Similarly to PlayPlay’s free hygiene product initiative, the UK’s HMRC has recently recognised the importance of this support by offering free period products to their female and gender-fluid workers in all female and gender-neutral toilets. A representative commented on the scheme:

“This is another positive step towards making HMRC a great place to work, where we prioritize the wellbeing of our colleagues and people are treated with empathy, dignity and respect.”

5. Increase diversity in all decision making

To be a truly diverse and gender equal employer you must open the door to women of different backgrounds and color. This will further create a welcoming, open and diverse culture that celebrates all kinds of employees.

Additionally, consider how employees of all backgrounds and seniority can better support business decision making and shape the workplace environment and culture. Can you create a group, committee or a squad that helps shape the business and is open to all employees?

PlayPlay’s culture and CSR squads are a great example of creating diverse committees within your business that help it evolve. Our squads are made up of all types of employees, to help us drive PlayPlay’s vision from within while creating a safe environment for all. Together we’ve:

  • Crafted and defined PlayPlay’s values.
  • Improved the recruitment process by including steps like the “culture fit” interview — where female and male employees from other teams get the opportunity to meet the candidate in the final stage and ensure that they are the right culture fit. Additionally, every PlayPlayer receives active training in conducting structured interviews that avoid possible biases.
  • Encouraged each PlayPlayer to take on positive actions within and outside of PlayPlay. Whether this means gift collections for the less fortunate, partnering with charitable organizations, implementing green actions or participating in fundraising events.

Example: PlayPlay offices work together to build gift boxes for underprivileged communities.

6. Provide paid special leave

Consider introducing extra paid leave for your employees. Paid gender-blind parenthood leave, extra vacation days or childcare support can be very helpful for mothers and parents when childcare needs come up or to simply help them rest and rewind. Otherwise, consider bonus schemes and financial incentives that can be rewording for your employees — whether or not they have children. Incentivise this as part of your benefits package to create a win-win situation for the company and the employee.

Etsy is a great example of offering extended paid benefits for parents. As displayed below, they offer extended paid gender-blind parent leave, flexible working schedule and childcare support within their standard benefits package. Although these benefits are positioned for parents, employees without children can also benefit from the likes of flexible working and company sponsored family events. Making this a great benefit for all.

Example: Etsy child care & parental leave benefits.

7. Invest in training and education on equality and diversity

Offer regular workshops, education and training to all employees centered around various equality and diversity topics. This allows you to tackle these topics from within the organization by educating your team about important issues and showcasing your stand on these. Some employees may not be aware of the fundamental issues their co-workers may face due to their gender, race, sexuality or other biases. By providing training on these issues you can ensure this knowledge and insight trickles down to other areas of your company like policies, recruitment, and culture. While providing a safe environment to your employees who fully understand your processes and policies around these issues.

Accenture is a great example here as they believe that “no one should be discriminated against because of their differences, such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion or sexual orientation.”

They offer structured training to all employees split into 3 areas: “Diversity Awareness”, “Diversity Management” and “Professional Development” which focus on providing all employees the knowledge, tools and confidence to embrace their diverse culture in all areas of business.

Example: Accenture employee diversity awareness video.

8. Pay equity audit

Women earn on average 82% of what men earn in the United States alone. This means that the gender pay gap is still very real, and problematic for a lot of women. To combat this issue, consider holding a pay equity audit to help you understand the pay gap in your company and provide a structured plan to combat this. Offer transparency to employees about your gender index and pay gap and showcase future plans to help combat this issue. This will help you attract and retain top-performing women employees with leadership potential, while ensuring you stay on top of the increasing state regulations that require pay equity and transparency.

PlayPlay is a great example here, as we proudly display our gender equity index score of 99/100 on our website giving our female employees and future candidates the confidence in being paid fairly for their efforts and experience.

Example: PlayPlay: 99/100 Gender Equity Index result.

9. Mental Health Initiatives

In 2021, 27.2% of adult women were diagnosed with a mental health issue in the United States compared to 18.1% of men. This not only showcases that your female employees are more likely to struggle with mental health during their careers but it’s also something that impacts many male employees too. Therefore, you should consider providing education and mental health services to all of your employees in an aim to improve their well-being.

Pinterest’s “Pinside Out” program is a great example of mental health support. Their forum for all employees encourages them to discuss mental health issues in the workplace. While bringing health professionals, experts and external speakers to offer advice on well-being topics including intersectional feminism and surviving the holidays with your family.

Example: Snapshot of Pintrest’s diversity and inclusions statement.

10. Be proud to showcase your diverse culture

Remember to be proud of your diverse culture. Create content that will attract diverse talent to your business by showcasing your employees, their background and their passions and successes at work. Celebrate your employees’ background internally by positively acknowledging their traditions, circumstances and so on. While cultivating an open-door policy for all to inspire change from within. This celebratory culture will help you retain and attract top-talent.

Recently, at PlayPlay we celebrated our global female leaders in a Women’s International Day series to showcase their talent, passions and the importance of gender diversity in business. This is a great example of celebrating your culture to future talent, customers and investors.

Example: PlayPlay’s Women’s International Day - Employee Highlight Campaign.

Now that you have plenty of ideas on how to get started with women-friendly policies let’s talk about how they will benefit you, your business and your male colleagues too.

Women-Friendly Policies Benefit Everyone

Are you still uncertain of the benefits your company and employees will gain from implementing women-friendly policies? Well don't be - companies that encourage gender diversity can generate up to 21% additional profits.

Because they are:

  • Benefiting from a broader range of perspectives and ideas: This leads to improved decision-making and increased profitability. Studies from Michigan University showcase that groups of diverse problem solvers are likely to outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
  • Winning at talent acquisition and retention: A diverse and inclusive workplace can attract and retain top talent, which can lead to increased productivity and profitability.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction: A diverse workforce can better understand and serve a diverse customer base, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

That's why it's so important for businesses to prioritize gender-equality at all levels!

Are you ready to join a business that cares?

Supporting gender equality is top priority for PlayPlay. In striking contrast to the tech industry's average of 28% in the US, we are proud that 60% of our leadership positions are taken up by talented women.

Achieved by the ongoing support from our board's progressive mindset and the deliberate efforts made in our recruitment process. Our commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace has recently been recognized by scoring an impressive 99 out of 100 in the Gender Index. Showcasing our clear efforts towards achieving full gender-equality and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

Join our team now, if you’d like to work with a like-minded and progressive company like PlayPlay! We have available positions in France, US, Germany and remote! Join us.