Gender Diversity in the Workplace

17-December-2017 in General by Alex Barrow

Diversity in the professional environment is a hotly contested topic. While many agree that diversity is a necessity, many companies still fail to include it in their staff count. So what does diversity mean? To ensure a variety of opinions, ideas, concepts and contextual insights are accounted for, it’s important to include individuals who have a range of experience, outlooks and skills. Not only does diversity acknowledge the differences between men and women, but it includes people from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities and sometimes religions.

Traditionally, the work force was made up of men, working to sustain their families while their wives stayed at home to care for the children. Over the past century, this tradition has been turned upside down and both men and women are now included in the workforce. However, despite the dramatic increase in women working, there is still a large gap in terms of women in the workplace. According to Forbes, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple have a notably lower number of female employees, however are working on improving their ratios. Bill Gates, iconic founder of Microsoft, famously said ‘If you’re not utilising half the talent… you’re not going to get close to the top’, a quote intended to incite thinking about taking advantage of skills, experience and abilities of women.

With the professional world constantly evolving, it’s imperative to be open-minded and to look outside the box when it comes to new ideas, new ways of working, and widening the scope for success in your business. The key benefit of diversity in the workplace is that various view-points and experiences are a one-way ticket to relating to a wider net of consumers. The new perspectives can give insight into ideas never thought of or considered before, and that is the essence of company growth and directional change. Moreover, in our global economy, there is higher demand for international business relationships as companies continue to grow. Showing initiative and open-mindedness in terms of building a diverse network is guaranteed to prove beneficial in developing overseas relationships. It’ll become natural to communicate and understand needs and opinions different to the ways attributed to non-diverse work spaces.

While the push for women in the work force is now common and expected, there is still an issue of women in leadership positions. Throughout Australia, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency report that ‘women hold only 14.2% of chair positions, 23.6% of directorships, as well as represent 15.4% of CEOs and 27.4% of key management personnel in Agency reporting organisations’. These numbers are staggeringly low, and are a sore point for many women with capabilities worthy of such positions that have not been given the opportunity to lead.

The benefits of diversity in the workplace far outweigh the ‘negatives’. The more diverse a company is, alongside appropriate training and relationship building, the more colourful and diverse the output is likely to be. Considering alternative options to status quo management or output can prove to be increasingly beneficial to your business. Hold team meetings with all members of your team, or at least members from different branches of the company, to gauge what each other does to contribute to the wider business machine. Understanding each other and working together rather than as separate entities is part of a positive work experience and a positive work environment.