6 ways marketers can contribute to the gender equality discussion

Kavita Singh spoke with Kate Farrow, everywoman’s director of learning, about how marketers can take steps to achieving gender equality within their business.

Get uncomfortable

Broaching any sort of topic that involves gender inequalities can be scary for both men and women. However, it is important for the entire team to challenge their own unconscious bias, and this starts with the business’s leadership team.

If you look around at the senior level positions, are the majority of them men? If so, the first step is admitting that this is an issue in the first place. It is especially important that the leaders in your business are the ones who bring these macroaggressions and microaggressions to the forefront, as this enables women to feel more comfortable when speaking up.

Kate Farrow, everywoman’s director of learning, said: “Be clear and share widely throughout the business what behaviours exclude women. Often we are on the lookout for the worst behaviours that can exclude women, such as harassment and bullying, when microaggressions are more often experienced and just as harmful.”

Some of these microaggressions may include: dismissing women’s health issues; not letting female colleagues speak up; and sexual objectification. According to the Way Women Work, 64% of women are exposed to some form of discrimination, with non-white women experiencing it more than anyone else.

Present data and the facts

Once you’re aware of these problems, how can you then communicate them to your team? If you are having trouble finding the right way to convey your feelings, start with the facts and figures.

Women might be afraid to address something when their feelings aren’t necessarily validated by anyone else in the company.

  • The gender pay gap for full and part-time workers combined in the UK fell to 17.3% in 2019, which means that women make approximately 82.7% of men’s median hourly wages.
  • Your business should allow room for advancement regardless of gender and race, but studies repeatedly show that workplace advancement is especially limited for women of colour.
  • According to a Digital Skills Gap Report in Ireland, women have superior digital skills in marketing, but only make up 30% in the digital marketing workforce overall.

With these sorts of alarming statistics, utilise them to start a conversation. We may not know why this disparity exists, but pointing to numbers can solidify that there most certainly is an issue.

Know your resources

Once you have the facts, use resources to your advantage. Your company is not expected to be an expert in diversity, but it should provide as much support for women as possible.

everywoman offers a ready-made women’s network of over 30,000 members, along with a wealth of tools, training, mentoring and support for women at every stage of their careers. It helps drive positive change by empowering women to achieve their professional potential and help companies improve productivity and performance through diversity insights designed to unlock female potential.

In addition, the Women’s Business Council is a business-led initiative that drives progress to improve women’s representation in the workplace. Its research papers can also be used as a tool to help organisations address gender inequality.

Recognise intersectionality

Gender is just one societal issue, of course. There are several other areas that need to be addressed as well, such as religion and race. Ultimately, the goal of all workplaces should be to achieve complete inclusivity; and not solely in terms of gender.

Educating your company will ensure that all under-represented groups feel comfortable within your workplace.

Kate says: “An understanding of overall inclusion will mean that business leaders understand the double glass ceiling experienced by women of colour, and that women with health conditions or impairments consistently report lower levels of engagement in business.

“The ethnicity pay-gap is not currently mandatory reporting in the UK. However, forward-thinking companies are choosing to report on their ethnicity pay-gap. Those companies that are making public statements about their commitment to reducing their ethnicity pay gap will win the war on talent.”

While these are all stepping stones to a much larger issue, having marketers recognise these societal issues can only help a company.

Set initiatives and stick to them

You’ve identified the issue, you’ve communicated there is an issue and you’ve gathered resources and stats that can support the company. Now what? This is where you’ll need to gather your team internally and map out the best course of action. Kate gave these key initiatives as ideas:

  • Ensure buy-in from the very top. The CEO and board must understand and acknowledge the problem to ensure it is addressed at every level.
  • Identify where inequality is within the business and make realistic targets to address the issue. If a board has no female directors, then that might be the first area to address.
  • Introduce internal affinity groups, bringing women and other minorities together to amplify their voice and share views on the company’s inclusion culture. This will help to highlight internal issues and bring employees’ concerns to the fore.
  • Profile your female role models, ensure they are given a platform to inspire and motivate other women in your organisation.
  • Be honest about your gender pay gap – is there a discrepancy? Ensure the CEO and board understand the reasons for your gender pay gap and set a realistic plan to address it.

Gather your allies

Fortunately, in 2020, the discussion about female inclusion in the workplace is no longer by women, about women, for women. This means that if your male colleagues aren’t willing to advocate for change in the workplace, that needs to change.

Kate says: “For several years, there have been many male agents of change championing for gender inclusion in the workplace. The commercial benefit to inclusion has supported many male allies to explore how they can support. In male-dominated industries, the lack of women means that the voice for female inclusion is not as amplified, which is why the inclusion of men in the conversation is so important.”

At B2B Marketing, we know we’re not perfect, and we need to keep these things in mind as much as anyone else. If you have any ideas for content to keep this discussion at the fore of our industry, please feel free to drop us a line at: editorial@b2bmarketing.net