Early in 2022, it was revealed by the United Nations that Indonesia’s gender inequality index is among the highest of the ASEAN countries. Even though Indonesian men and women have the same level of education, there are still significant wage differences with some women earning more than 50% less than their male counterparts. Why? While it is true that many Indonesian women tend to gravitate towards careers that are related to domestic work like caregiving and nursing, gender inequality is just simply too widespread to sweep under the rug. It is stated that gender inequalities are rooted in traditional discriminatory social norms and power imbalances that were never tackled and rectified. Even though there has been some progress on gender equality in terms of the basics such as the ability to vote and women using their voices to make their opinions known, many women are still missing out on the empowerment that is offered in private work sectors. This has led to initiatives and programmes like the WeEmpowerAsia being funded by the European Union and UN Women. Aiming to increase the number of women who lead and participate in the private-sector business this initiative will advance inclusivity and increase women’s labour force participation rates. These are all done in the hopes that women’s full participation will multiply the capabilities of the whole society and further close the economic gender gap.
In this blog, we discuss why gender equality in the workplace is a necessity and what it will look like.
In recent years there has been a growing number of research and studies that demonstrate a strong correlation between gender equality and business success. So, while there remains a large gap between the number of men and women in leadership roles, it is important to see how truly committing to diversity in the workplace can have definite financial benefits. More than a mere buzzword that has taken the world by storm, “gender equality” can influence everything from the reputation of your business to the retention of customers and staff, as well as strengthen work relationships.
Some of the key benefits that you can from gender parity include:
Because of social campaigns like the #MeToo movement, gender equality has become a priority for many, in turn, becoming a priority for organisations too. When it comes to potential hires, job-seekers may keep their eyes out for companies that have a more diverse team of staff. And this does not just apply to women feeling safe and being treated fairly at their workplace – it applies to men too. Take the well-known case back in 2019, where JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest investment banking companies made headlines when one of their male staff was discouraged from taking paid parental leave to care for his new child simply because of his gender. The gender discrimination lawsuit that followed severely impacted the bank’s reputation, leading to a decrease in potential clients and employees since it no longer seemed progressive and inclusive.
From the above case study, it is clear to see that reputation can make or break your enterprise. Since customers look for diversity and equality, embracing and empathising with the needs and wants of your broad customer base will help build loyalty and attract new ones. Gender equality will also boost staff retention. Since it is a well-known fact that retaining talent is more cost-effective than hiring new ones, it is pivotal that a comfortable work environment is established from the get-go. Beyond looking at the basics such as the salary, training opportunities and additional benefits, corporate culture is also influenced by the presence of a zero-tolerance policy against sexual discrimination and the like.
According to the Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences in their paper “Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and Women at Workplaces”, there are gender differences in communication patterns. This means that the differing levels of communication between men and women are one to be leveraged by corporations to build strong working relationships with clients. For example, in the study, women are said to be more relationship-oriented and look for commonalities to connect with individuals – this trait can prove beneficial when strengthening your business in the long run.
Having a mixture of gender in the office brings with it many benefits. Not only an ethical thing to do but also a movement that will be a game changer in terms of turning long-term issues such as power gaps on its head, tackling biases is a step that all organisations must take. But what does gender equality look like?
Relaying her own take on gender equality, Liwa Supriyanti explains, “Businesses that actively support gender equality tend to make better decisions as there will be increased viewpoints that will be shared in a boardroom that has a dynamic mix of men and women. Therefore, when both men and women are given equal opportunities for career growth, they are better able to positively influence the company.”
A commitment to gender equality and diversity should be looked at as another business goal. Creating a culture that allows the safe discussion of topics like inequality is the first step but taking the conversations and pointers raised and implementing the necessary changes thereafter is a long and arduous journey, that like it or not, has to be taken.
With the goal to correct and identify gender inequality, Gunung Prisma is constantly taking steps to close the gender gap and tap into the potential of all individuals to take our business to newer heights. Adding to this, Liwa states “Businesses have to take the necessary actions to make real change for their staff, business, clients, customers, and society. Being a woman in a competitive industry, seeing more female employees taking on leadership roles and seeing men being supported equally not only makes me believe that change is near but also know that the overall improvement in workplace productivity and cooperation is something that every other business can benefit from too.”