Strides towards a gender-inclusive society have highlighted the gap in skills in the workplace.  This is not to say women aren’t as qualified as men, but because of many years of active patriarchy, women have rarely been seen as professional individuals who can contribute to the economy at large.  To see how your business can address gender-based training gaps, read our article below.

Manager awareness is vital in teams 

When working with people who are previously disadvantaged, managers and those who are in leadership roles need to be aware of the underlying issues they face. Men and women have a different way of conducting themselves in the workplace, and that's because of the gender roles they grew up in. For example, women were taught to be polite, feminine, nurturing and accommodating.  Men, on the other hand, were taught to be strong, assertive and bold. Those traits don’t only appear in their private life, but in the workplace too. In some cases, a male colleague will be more confident in their approach when seeking a new role. Whereas for women who grow up being taught the importance of politeness and being accommodating, might not have the same approach when seeking a promotion. This is why seniors need to be aware of gender roles and how they can affect candidates when there is a new job position. They need to tailor their approach differently and look at candidates' qualifications and skills separately, not only how well they sell themselves in the interview. 

Encourage a personal approach to each member

When it comes to gender diversity in the workplace, you need to remember that each person is different. To address gender-based workplace training, you need to have an approach that works with individuals, not with a collective group. Take the time to personally speak to your female employees and find out what their goals and aspirations are. Find out what they wish to achieve and what additional training they need to get to reach their career goals or to go into a new career path.  A one-size-fits-all approach does not fit. You need to consider women’s socialisation and how it may hinder them. The same applies to introverts and extroverts. By having a personal approach, you’re not only ensuring that your company works towards gender equality, but you get to create new business innovations with minds who might not always be on the forefront of business operations. Allow others the opportunity to share their opinions and knowledge. There might be many women in your company who have the skills but never had the opportunity to voice their opinions. This can also cause a high turnover rate as those employees will look for an environment with gender equality. 

Incorporate mentorship programmes 

Having mentors readily available to help guide your female employees is an effective way to bridge the skills gap. Women need role models in leadership positions to show them that women can be successful. Apart from having training programmes, there’s a need for mentors, who will be available to help women grow within their careers. Whether it is guidance on how to ask for a pay raise, or how they can tackle issues of gender inequality if they feel as if they are being discriminated against because of their gender. This is not to say mentorships need to be the same gender.  Having mentors can also be an effective way of creating educational dialogues between men and women about the importance of gender sensitivity in the workplace. More importantly, how men can help and overcome issues with gender barriers in the workplace and be a part of the change. 

Final thoughts 

Economic development in South Africa will only fully thrive if both genders have equal opportunities to build success. And, the only way to achieve this is through education and training.  Schools have made strides in creating a more inclusive environment, and now it is up to businesses to do the same. Managers and businesses as a whole have the responsibility to ensure that everything they do comes from a place of understanding and education of how both genders will respond to changes or improvements. For women to have a fighting chance in the workplace, there needs to be knowledge of historical patriarchal culture and how it still shows up in the workplace. Without acknowledging that, any other strides will be redundant as the key issue isn’t resolved yet.   

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