Guide to promote gender equality and diversity in organizational culture
This tool will help you identify how inclusive, balanced and diverse leadership is in your company, why it is important to improve its performance and how to incorporate actions to move towards a work environment that enhances the capabilities of all people, especially of women, taking advantage of diversity (gender, age, ethnicity, race, knowledge and other aspects) at all levels of the organization, as a catalyst for better results.
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Guide to promote gender equality and diversity in organizational culture
The guide allows for a simple diagnosis using three instruments that will help identify:
- How is the labor structure composed at each of the levels of the company?
- How much does the culture or environment of the company favor gender equality and diversity at all levels (in entry positions, middle management, executive team and board of directors or board of directors)?
- How to develop action plans based on the findings?
Throughout the document, recommendations and examples are included that could inform the company’s action plan for closing gender gaps and improving the diversity of its teams, as well as promoting a more inclusive organizational culture. They are references to guide the discussion within the organizations, since the plans and objectives will depend on the commitment and possibilities of each one.
Understanding the challenge and benefits of equality in leadership
“We have been trying to solve the most complex problems in the world, with only 50% of our intellectual power. It is time to change this. By bringing more women to positions of power and influence, we will be able to use the full talents and ambitions of humanity. We need all the best ideas, and the most courageous leaderships, to face the challenges that we have in front of us.” – Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In Latin America, as in the rest of the world, there are great inequalities regarding the participation of women in corporate leadership positions. Despite the fact that women represent 51% of the region’s population, they occupy only 6.4% of the seats on the boards of directors of the 100 largest companies in the territory while men occupy 93.6%. In 60% of companies, the boards of directors are composed only of men and women occupy only 5% of executive positions.
Even in sectors where women represent more than 50% of the workforce, such as commerce, healthcare, the financial sector or the public sector, they are underrepresented in executive positions. The gap is even greater when other characteristics such as race, gender identity, disability and other conditions of discrimination are added. For example, in Brazil (where the Afro-Brazilian population represents almost half its inhabitants), a study carried out by the Ethos Institute in the 500 largest companies in the country reports that only 16% of Afro-Brazilian women hold managerial positions and 0.4% executive positions..
These discouraging figures coincide with data from the World Economic Forum, which identified that under current conditions it will take us 257 years to close the gender gap in the world of work..
In contrast, when women actively participate in the management teams and boards of directors of companies, the positive impact is notable and is reflected in their performance indicators. However, in order to reap greater benefits from this diversity in company results, it is not enough to add a woman to the board of directors or include a handful of people with diverse characteristics on teams. Additionally, it is necessary to promote a culture that enhances diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization.
According to Credit Suisse Gender 3000 (CSG3000), based on a data collection exercise between 2014 and 2017 in 3,000 global companies from countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, having diverse boards of directors translates into greater creation of long-term value. Companies that have at least one female director obtain 3.5% higher returns than companies that do not have women on their boards. In addition, those companies that have more than 15% women as part of their executive teams have up to 50% more profitability than those that have less than 10% women in leadership positions.
Companies must promote the leadership of women in their structures to enhance their talent and to reap better results. According to information from Deloitte , teams with inclusive leadership report being 17% more likely to perform better, 20% consider that they make better decisions, and 29% that they work more collaboratively. Additionally, the analysis shows that by increasing the perception of greater inclusion in teams by 10%, the cost of absenteeism is reduced.
Definitions and key terms
In order to promote a better understanding of this tool, some key terms related to inclusive leadership, gender and diversity are presented, with the aim that there is a common language regarding the concepts that will be addressed in the following sections.
Inclusive leadership : leadership style that ensures that all the people in a team feel that they are treated with respect and in a fair way, are valued and have a high sense of belonging, have confidence and feel inspired.
Gender balance: refers to the equal distribution of opportunities and resources for life between women and men, as well as the same representation of women and men (in the public and private phere).
Gender parity: is another term for equal representation of women and men in a given area. For example, gender parity in institutional leadership or higher education. Working to achieve gender parity (equal representation) is a key component to achieve substantive equality and, together with the incorporation of the gender perspective, they make up twin strategies.
Gender equality: equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women and men and for girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men are equal, but that the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of one and the other will not depend on being born with a certain sex.
Diversity: proportion of people who are different from each other (in terms of sex, race, nationality, marital or marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, migration status, religion, age, socioeconomic level, among others). For an organization and its leadership to be considered diverse, its composition must be representative of the community where it operates.
Intersectionality: is a tool for analysis, advocacy and policy making that addresses multiple discriminations and helps us understand how different sets of identities influence access to rights and opportunities. It begins with the premise that people live multiple identities, made up of several layers, derived from social relationships, history, and the operation of power structures.
Multiple discrimination : concept used to describe the complexity of discrimination involving more than one ground. It is also known as intersectional, additive, cumulative, compound, complex discrimination, or multidimensional inequalities. Although the terminology may seem confusing, it tends to describe two situations: 1) the situation in which a person faces more than one ground of discrimination (for example, discrimination on the basis of sex and disability, or on the basis of age and orientation sexual). In such circumstances, all women and all people with disabilities (both men and women) have the potential to be discriminated against; 2) the situation in which discrimination affects only those who belong to more than one group (i.e. only women with disabilities and not men with disabilities).
By applying this tool, the people who are part of the company will be able to:
- Analyze and understand the composition of the workforce, disaggregated by sex and other factors of discrimination, such as age, ethnic group membership, disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Understand how much the organizational culture promotes gender equality and diversity.
- Define action plans to enhance the leadership of people who have been underrepresented in managerial and directive positions.
- Promote the generation of an inclusive culture that promotes gender equality.
Steps for implementation
For a successful application of the tool, it is recommended that the company reflect on the general problem of inequality in the workplace, becoming aware of gender gaps in the corporate world, emphasizing the situation in Latin America based on data as presented at the beginning. It is also important that you understand the effects that gender gaps in leadership have on the performance of companies, as well as the potential that greater gender equality and diversity have on results – financial and otherwise – and that it can be used when implementing actions such as those proposed here.
Visualization and analysis of the workforce composition
“Companies should start by using people analytics , the data and informed decisions must know how their workforce is formed in terms of gender, generations, disability, representation of the LGTBIQ + community based on reality and not on assumptions.” – Gabriela Bustamante, leader of Propósito e Inclusión at PWC.
The first step to knowing how diverse the company is at all levels (entry positions, middle managers, executive team and board of directors), is to carry out a basic census on the composition of the workforce within it. For this, Table 1 is suggested as a tool, which is completed by placing the amounts that correspond to each column, according to the number of people employed and their characteristics.
Once the information in the table has been completed, it will serve as an input for the second step, which consists of calculating the percentages that correspond to each sex or discrimination condition, for each hierarchical level, with respect to the total number of people who work in the company and the total number of people per level within the structure. This percentage analysis will serve to measure how balanced is the composition of the company in terms of women and men, together with its level of inclusion with respect to people who experience a situation of discrimination. Additionally, the intersectional analysis will allow to identify if there are people or groups that are suffering multiple discrimination.
Additionally, if the company wishes to know more details about the disaggregated composition, an analysis can be included by areas (human resources, technology, operations, marketing), by type of contract (fixed term, indefinite), working hours (full time, time partial), by generations (millennials, centennials, genX, baby boomers), among others, which will provide information that leads to data-based decisions and actions to close gaps.
For this task, tool 5. Analysis of gender gaps in talent management can be very useful, which also appears in lens 2
Analysis of the promotion of gender equality and diversity in the organizational culture
After having identified the composition of the people who collaborate within the work structure, it is necessary to understand how much inclusion and diversity permeates the company culture and decision-making. The promotion of diversity is not only a matter of number or percentage, and it is not only working from recruitment, but it is also about promotions, leadership, access to opportunities within the company and organizational culture. In this regard, it is very important to identify biases or stereotypes that are obstructing the advancement of women.
To promote an organizational culture that promotes gender equality and diversity, it is important that the practice of inclusion is carried out across the board at all levels of the company. To achieve a true transformation and a commitment to equality, this must start from the board of directors and the executive team (CEO and general management). The commitment to gender equality must be manifest, shared and communicated throughout the organization.
An example of manifest commitment that thousands of companies have adopted around the world is the signing of the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of principles that offer guidance to companies on how to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace, the marketplace and the community developed by UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact. In addition to the letter of commitment, the WEPs present a self-diagnosis and a guide for companies to move towards gender equality in four dimensions: leadership, workplace, markets and community. More information in: https://www.weps.org/
To know the level of commitment that the company has with gender equality and diversity, it is suggested to use the following matrix, answering the guiding questions for senior management, boards of directors and companies that want to have greater diversity and equality gender in their strategies. Upon completion, it will be possible to identify opportunities for improvement and establish action plans according to your own reality.
Preparation of the action plan
It is not enough to have a heterogeneous and diverse composition at all levels of the organizational hierarchy, but it is also necessary to understand the dynamics of decision-making, growth and participation, inviting the introduction of different points of view in the processes and decisions of the company. To create a culture that promotes inclusion and diversity, Korn Ferry identifies four essential elements:
- Inclusive leadership: recruiting and developing inclusive leaders at all levels of the organization. Those who lead must have vision, take responsibility and be an example to the rest of the team.
- Structural inclusion: building egalitarian and transparent structures, designing processes and practices in an inclusive way.
- Inclusive behaviors: support the development of an inclusive mindset, as well as skills and tools that enhance the characteristics of this leadership style.
- Actions for inclusion: implement plans and tools that contribute to an adequate management of change, maintaining the commitment of all people in the adoption of an organizational culture of equality and non-discrimination.
Korn Ferry developed a self-awareness test so that anyone within the company, regardless of their hierarchical level, can determine how inclusive their leadership style is:
From the diagnostic tools presented in steps 1 and 2 of this guide, companies will have inputs to build their action plan. For this, the following steps are recommended:
- Carry out a participatory process with representatives of the areas that make up the company, to generate a brainstorming of projects that the company could promote to ensure gender equality and greater diversity, at all levels. It is essential to ensure the active participation of all the diversity of the staff in this exercise, in order to guarantee an inclusive ideation process.
- Prioritize the actions identified, according to the feasibility of implementation in the short, medium and long term.
- Define measurable objectives and goals, with data disaggregated by sex.
- Appoint the people responsible for carrying out the prioritized plans and, if necessary and feasible, assign a budget.
- Communicate within the organization the results of the process and support the agreements with a manifest commitment from the executive team.
- To periodically monitor the progress of the objectives and goals, and notify it in a timely manner.
To communicate the company's commitment, tool 5. Manifesto for gender equality in lens 1 offers a model of statement to be signed and disseminated by senior management.
The action plan must contain measures that address key issues to promote gender equality and diversity in the organizational culture: staff management with equal opportunities, leadership, training, co-responsibility work life-personal life, prevention and care of violence work, including sexual harassment and harassment, as well as measurement of the work environment with a gender perspective. These are some examples of affirmative measures or actions that address various aspects and contribute to closing any gaps that may exist within the organization:
- Recruitment and selection with equal opportunities
Some actions to reduce bias in hiring and encourage greater participation of women and diverse people are:
1. Design standardized and documented processes for the recruitment, selection, induction, training, compensation, evaluation and promotion of personnel, which ensure equal opportunities and treatment for those who participate.
2. Prepare job profiles and job offers with non-sexist and inclusive language, with the explicit prohibition of requests for non-pregnancy and HIV certificates.
3. Use a blind resume in recruitment and selection: the first entry filter to the company is the incorporation of a CV process that does not contain name, sex, marital or marital status of the candidate, to exclusively assess whether the person covers with the requirements for the position. In the interview process, establish that you should not ask about marital or marital status, or previous wages or salary that you are looking for.
4. Ensure that there is at least one woman on all the short-lists of the recruitment processes.
- Gender balance goals
Establishing goals for the promotion of women in the different positions of the company, with equal criteria, taking into account the differentiated needs of women and people in situations of discrimination, is an excellent path towards gender parity. A common goal adopted by many companies is to achieve at least 30% participation of women in boards of directors and executive positions (C-suite). There is a global initiative called the 30% Club (https://30percentclub.org/) that aims to achieve at least 30% representation on all boards of directors and executive levels globally. On the other hand, the B-Team (https://bteam.org/) – group of business leaders who seek to redefine the culture of accountability to create sustainable conditions for companies, society and the environment, creating new norms of corporate governance–, has defined a goal of gender balance to achieve at least 40% representation of women on boards of directors and management and executive teams.
- Mentoring and leadership programs
It is a frequent strategy among companies that want to promote a greater presence of women in decision-making positions, since existing knowledge within the organization can be used. Good practices such as those of NetSuite and PayPal serve as inspiration, in both cases mentoring plays a specific role: women in leadership positions become success stories within the same company. With a personalized approach, the goal is to give participants the support they need to be able to achieve their own version of success.
- Educational programs with gender perspective and reduction of biases
The lack of women in leadership positions and key areas for the business has been attributed many times to the career interests of women. However, part of these differences is explained by social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate them. It is quite common that, due to the family burden that is socially assigned to women, they are offered support or non-strategic assignments or projects. There is a prejudice that they will not be able to balance both responsibilities, however, these premises do not recognize the insufficiency in the supply of care services, nor the lack of respect for established work schedules, and foster a generalized belief about the role of caregivers. women as sole caretakers. Companies are also jointly responsible for an adequate work-life balance. To break these stereotypes, it is necessary for companies to provide training and spaces for reflection so that all people know how to include the gender perspective in their decisions, identify unconscious biases and learn to see the full potential of diversity for their businesses, and that this training happens within the working day.
- Co-responsibility between work-life and personal-life
There are various measures that favor the right of women and men to paid work without having to give up their personal life, such as: flexible or staggered hours, teleworking, maternity, paternity and parental leave, leave and leave with or without pay. , lactation rooms and dependent care supports. In all cases, it is essential to recognize the unequal distribution of domestic and care work faced by women, which limits their opportunities to develop within organizations and access decision-making positions, in addition to taking into account the different types of homes and families that exist in society. It is necessary to distinguish that care is not only provided to infants or couples, but also to elderly, sick or disabled people, who may or may not have a consanguineous relationship with the staff. To be successful and have a positive impact, stewardship measures need to be documented and standardized, made available to all staff, and encouraged by men and managers to use them.
- Prevent and address workplace violence
Companies must have mechanisms for the prevention and care of workplace violence, including harassment and sexual harassment. It is advisable to act to prevent, promoting a work culture of zero tolerance for violence, creating an environment for reflection on its causes and manifestations, and eliminating the difficulties to report it. A protocol for the prevention and care of workplace violence, harassment and sexual harassment can include the regulatory framework that supports it, contain definitions and basic concepts, establish the explicit prohibition of certain behaviors, include dissemination and prevention strategies, institute formal complaint procedures, and provide protection measures for the alleged victims, solutions for the victim and sanctions for the aggressor.
- Measuring the work environment with a gender perspective
The analysis of staff satisfaction and their perception of the organizational culture that is usually done within companies must be carried out with a gender perspective so that it becomes a mechanism that fosters equal opportunities. This allows us to have first-hand information, detect gender gaps and situations of discrimination and workplace violence, prevent negative behaviors and their consequences (decrease in productivity, absenteeism, staff turnover and loss of talents) and implement measures specifically designed to address the problematic ones.
Annual and transparent publication of figures for women at each level and in promotions. Some indicators that can be considered in the report include: percentage of women, men and people in conditions of discrimination in managerial or leadership positions, percentage of job rotation by sex, number of requests for parental leave, hiring rate by sex, percentage of internal talent promotion by sex and conditions of discrimination. Likewise, include in the dissemination the results of the implementation of actions in favor of gender equality.
Tool 4. Action plan for gender in lens 1 offers a proposal to incorporate the gender approach in the company in a transversal way, since it considers, in addition to the organizational culture, actions related to governance, products and services of the company and its value chain.
Below is a list of resources to support the design of measures that can be included in the action plan, organized according to key themes to promote gender equality and diversity in the organizational culture.
Mentoring in the Workplace, guide based on international experiences for companies to develop mentoring programs:
Educational programs with a gender perspective
Puntogénero: Training for equality / Educational resources:
Co-responsibility work life and personal life
Attracting and Retaining Talent through Inclusive Family-Friendly Policies:
Family, personal and work conciliation during COVID-19:
Support tools of the Mexican Standard NMX-R-025-SCFI-2015 on Labor Equality and Non-Discrimination / 12. Carry out actions for joint responsibility in work, family and personal life with equal opportunities:
Working without ceasing to live: Best practices for life-work integration in Mexico:
Workplace violence, harassment and sexual harassment
Tackling Sexual Harassment in the World of Work:
Gender-Based Violence and Harassment at Work Policy Template:
Model Protocol for Prevention and Action in Cases of Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual and Labor Harassment in Civil Society Organizations:
Measuring the work environment with a gender perspective
Support tools of the Mexican Standard NMX-R-025-SCFI-2015 on Labor Equality and Non-Discrimination / 5. Measure the work environment and non-discrimination in the workplace: