In recent years, we’ve seen a great deal of attention directed toward the gender pay gap. More people have become aware that men are compensated better than women worldwide, and business leaders are starting to take steps to address the problem. This has led to a perplexing question: As we go about fixing the pay gap, what other problems will we encounter along the way? What additional steps can be taken to curb sexism in our industries?
According to the The New York Times, several companies in England are beginning to tackle this question. For example, when Virgin Media began to look at the pay gap, the company’s brass also discovered a lack of women in the workforce (only 29 percent of staff members were female). They realized that their work environment was not one that encouraged career development for women, so they sought to change that. The company is now experimenting with all-female groups of interns as well as requiring one woman to be recruited for every job opening.
“We’re trying to identify who might be the shining stars that we can fast-track a little bit with a bit more sponsorship,” Virgin Media chief people officer Catherine Lynch told the Times.
The hope is that if Virgin Media promotes diversity for long enough, it will eventually become second-nature.
“I don’t think we’ll always have to do that,” Lynch said of the gender diversity program. “There will come a tipping point where the momentum will have been created.”
Helping women with career development is not the only strategy. The Times also reported on a British law firm that’s giving female lawyers flexible schedules, helping them more easily balance work and family. Meanwhile, a technology company is giving women easier access to tech training that can help them gain new skills, and a media company is working to hire more women in order to mirror its client base more closely.
These are improvements that can benefit not only women who pursue career growth, but more broadly the entire workforce. When the workplace is more open and inclusive, it helps everyone be better engaged and achieve more.
“I say no,” said Myfanwy Edwards, an engineer at Fujitsu, when asked if gender equality was a feminist problem. “It’s all of our problem.”