CEOs Need to Take the Lead on Gender Equality

Joe Weinlick
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Gender equality has become a hot topic in the corporate world. Despite diversity workshops and programs to promote women in leadership, many gender equality initiatives fall flat. In order to break down the longstanding hurdles that lead to inequality at the workplace, CEOs must start stepping up and implementing company-wide changes.

Foster a Gender-Equal Business Culture

Rather than just holding non-discrimination meetings and diversity workshops, CEOs can set an example by implementing gender-equality practices into the company's day-to-day routine. This can include mentoring professional women who show strong potential, ensuring female employees are present for big, decision-making meetings and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment.

Ensure Equal Pay and Career Opportunities

Salary by job title, merit-based pay and hourly wages should all reflect gender equality. CEOs should be especially wary of improper maternity leave policies that impact women's wages unfairly. To take another step forward, look deeper into the companies your organization does business with, avoiding those that clearly support unequal pay. CEOs should also ensure that different career doors are open to men and women equally. Both genders should have the same access to potential promotions, career development programs and mentoring opportunities.

Implement Flexible Policies

Parents, both men and women, have a difficult time finding a work-life balance, but CEOs can make things easier by implementing gender-neutral flexible work policies. Ample vacation and family leave, opportunities to work from home on occasion, and generous maternity and paternity leave benefits are a few cornerstones.

Make Gender Equality a Priority

CEOs have the power to make gender equality a business goal, a commitment which helps leaders on every tier to prioritize the issue. This also allows initiatives and policies to find their way into the company's daily activities swiftly. One concrete way to implement gender equality as a business goal is to create goals across the organization, which may include a percentage of women in leadership and management positions, a certain number of women in mentorship programs and pay equality.

Gather Talent Data

If CEOs want to start meeting gender equality goals, gathering current data is a crucial first step. Find out the gender disparity of new talent being hired, the percentage of women in management roles and the percentage of women versus men being promoted. Sharing these numbers with employees is an important step in conveying the reality of gender disparity while providing accountability as you strive to improve your statistics.

Gender equality is a long road that companies can't reach with one or two initiatives. If organizations want to truly make a difference for a better corporate future, CEOs must take matters into their own hands. What are a few examples of daily practices leaders can pursue to promote workplace gender equality?

Photo courtesy of ILaw TH at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Dave Surina thanks for your comment. The world as we knew it has passed. We are living in a whole new brave world now where the rules are kind of blurred. Yes, hiring should be based upon merit as well as fit for the jobs. The government has not changed their guidelines yet but I wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing some public notices about the changes. Personally I believe that hiring should be based upon qualifications. If you are qualified for and can do the job, you should be considered. Companies are weeding folks out based upon age, sex and race - all the things that we fought so hard to change. Time will tell where this leads to. As more jobs are being lost in our country, things will probably heat up quickly. Stay tuned!

  • Dave Surina
    Dave Surina

    Interesting thread here. I'd love to hear an objective, seasoned HR person address some of these topics. It seems Federal and State initiatives are at odds with traditional EEO / EEOC practices or policies. Originally, if following EEO guidelines, hiring should be based pretty strictly on merit, not age, race, veteran status, etc.. Has not Fedgov put companies and corporation HR folks between a rock and a hard place with conflicting guidelines. (Asking for a friend)

  • John A.
    John A.

    It does not seem if companies care about experience or if you can do the job. They just care about you age, to these people who don't care if I can do the job or not the hell with you. I am way to good at my job to lower myself to work for you if all you worry about right off the bat is my age.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Nicholas A thanks for your comment. Yes it is true that they ask for HS or College grad dates and that you don't have a choice but to respond. Most applications won't let you proceed until you put something in that spot. Unfortunately, there is no way around. Until someone challenges this in a high court with lots of public attention, nothing is going to change. What I don't get is how our president and our congress can be 100 yrs old but still have jobs and still run for office!!!!! Seems like a double standard there.

  • Nicholas A.
    Nicholas A.

    Age discrimination does exist. I was recently laid off and am looking for work for the first time in a long time. Even though no one can ask your age, they get around it by asking for the year you graduated from high school or college when submitting an online application. It is always a required field so in order to continue the application process, you need to give them the information.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Bradford L. you are right - age discrimination is far more prevalent than gender inequality but it is still a valid concern - especially for those being discriminated against. What you are saying about this company is true for many companies - sadly. All you can do is fight for your rights. If you feel that you are being discriminated against, go see a lawyer who specializes in age and gender discrimination. Maybe, if one person does this and wins big, it will send out a warning shot to other companies that it won't be tolerated.

  • Tracy S.
    Tracy S.

    You are 100% right!

  • Bradford L.
    Bradford L.

    I think that AGE Discrimination is far more prevalent as well as overlooked then gender inequality. Corporations would rather let a seasoned professional go "BECAUSE THE COMPANY IS MOVING IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION ". Instead of telling the truth which is "WHY SHOULD I HIRE A SEASONED PROFESSIONAL WHEN I CAN HIRE SOMEONE WITH HALF OF THAT EXPERIENCE AND PAY THEM HALF AS MUCH. How many times do you hear "I GAVE MY HEART AND SOUL TO THIS COMPANY FOR WHAT!!!!!. It's all about the bottom line. Quality has taken a back seat to the almighty bottom line. Then they have the ordasity to give their speech about the company montra that the company is all about Quality. What a line of crap.

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