Equality in the workplace

Equality in the workplace

How equality succeeds in the workplace

Equality means fair treatment of people regardless of gender, disability, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or age. In the workplace, equality means ensuring that people have equal opportunities and equal pay. Moreover, it means also be accepted for their differences.

Diversity in the company and the consequences

Equality in the workplace has existed since women entered the labor market. Companies cannot afford to lose qualified women and men on their career paths due to the ever-changing environment. As a result, they are dependent on finding ways to retain employees in the long term, to develop their potential, and to reconcile and achieve professional and private goals.

The importance of equality

The equality of all employees is an important prerequisite for ensuring that the different personalities, strengths and characteristics can be used productively for the company and promote innovation. Ultimately, a company can only grow and innovate through diversity.

Equality in the world of work

Equality in hiring decisions, supervision as well as in compensation and promotion practices can not only have legal implications, but also limit the company’s chances of success. Numerous adjustments to employee rights have already been made in recent years. These rights often refer to external structures that highlight intrinsic and interactive barriers to achieving equality. This prevents female employees from benefiting from the opportunities that arise. Despite the strong presence of women in the labor market, female workers are still disadvantaged compared to male workers. This is particularly evident in connection with management positions.

Equality: the facts

A report by Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI, 2018) found that in 2018, only 21.4% of leadership positions in the world’s 200 largest companies were held by women. The International Labor Organization also published a report (ILO 2019) in which, after surveying nearly 13,000 companies worldwide, they found that only one-third of companies worldwide have women on their boards. In almost 70% of the companies, only 14.3% had a balanced board of directors. To change the reality, some European and national organizations tried to introduce rules for gender equality in the workplace. The goal is to reduce the barriers women face throughout their careers and promote gender equality in the workplace.

Obstacles to gender equality at the organizational level

As Matus and Gallego (2015) explained in their concept of the “glass ceiling,” disadvantage is attributed to barriers that impede women’s careers. They pointed to three types of barriers: social, organizational, and personal. The emergence of social barriers is related to gender stereotypes, fewer training opportunities, as well as personal barriers caused by the role of mother or further family responsibilities. Barberá et al. (2009) confirmed that these barriers prevent women from entering the labor market and benefiting from the opportunities offered to men under the same conditions. Pellegrino, D’Amato, and Weisberg (2012) also make the point that obstructing equality in the workplace would affect two areas in particular. First, preventing the exploitation of advantages that arise after the integration of women at all levels of the company. Secondly, it would also mean being liable for the risks that arise when no measures are given to implement equality.

Three negative effects at the organizational level

1. lower group intelligence in decision-making teams due to lower social sensitivity; 2. loss of qualified employees; 3. no access to market niches where women are the main consumers.

Equality at decision-making levels

One of the most obvious consequences is the lack of women in leadership positions. In this context, a report by IESE Insight (2018) described that only 24% of female directors are represented on boards of directors listed on IBEX. Although, as Biedma (2017) confirmed, the presence of women on corporate boards has gradually increased, this is far from enough. The results show poor representation of women in leadership positions and on boards of directors.

Gender differences in the workplace are constant – but solutions are becoming apparent:

However, according to Chang (2019), there are some strategies that can be used to eliminate gender bias in the workplace:

Strategy 1: Blind decision making

One way to prevent the effects of gender bias in decision making is to eliminate the importance of gender. Blind choices can help us not focus on gender stereotypes. For example, if we do not know the gender of a candidate whose resume we are evaluating, characteristics such as gender no longer matter. This is especially helpful in overcoming prejudices.

Strategy 2: Formulating new social norms

When women bump up against gender stereotypes, they are judged by both men and women. To promote acceptance of all genders, managers should formulate new social norms according to which work-related behaviors are accepted equally, regardless of whether they are performed by men or women.

Strategy 3: Education

Another way to reduce gender bias is to educate people about the negative impacts. Once people are aware of these issues, they can take action to correct and change their own or others’ biases. Research has shown that gender diversity in the workplace is associated with higher financial performance. Companies with greater gender diversity generate higher profits compared to less diversified companies. Companies with more female employees on their boards achieve higher returns on equity and show stronger growth.


As the economy becomes more competitive, companies cannot afford to lose suitable workers. If companies work to overcome the biases, they can leverage the strengths of gender diversity. By rethinking and redesigning our decision-making processes, we can reduce the incidence of gender inequality and make organizations more effective, competitive, and fair. If you liked the blog article, feel free to check out our article on values at Kooku. To learn more about us, feel free to check out our social media channels.
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