While approximately 51 percent of the population in South Africa is female, they continue to be underrepresented in the workplace. And, according to a survey done by CareerJunction, about a third of women in South Africa feel that their gender is what's hindering their progress in their work. When an organisation strives for gender equality, they need to ensure that these three factors are met; equal pay and benefits, equal consideration of needs and equal opportunities for professional development.  All employees need to be treated equally and should never face discrimination because of their gender. And while this may seem like it only focuses on women, not having equality also impacts your business. To find out more about what the challenges are and how to promote equality, read this article below. 

Increased mental health issues

Mental health is a serious issue, and it does not only impact one’s personal life. People who struggle with mental health issues can be triggered when faced with discrimination due to their gender. This can leave employees feeling angry, heighten their anxiety, and even cause depression and stress. When it comes to mental health, one cannot separate it from someone’s work life. This could lead to lower quality of work, demotivation or failure to fulfil their job duties. Employee wellness is vital for your business’s bottom line, and if gender inequality isn’t addressed, your business may end up suffering just as much as the employee. 

High employee turnover 

A low employee turnover is a long-term goal for any organisation. It shows that there is something that your business is doing right and that your workers feel comfortable and happy working for you. A high turnover rate shows that something needs to change, as there must be a reason why you struggle to keep employees for an extended period. Lack of gender mainstreaming can cause high employee turnover. Women want to see strides towards gender diversity in the workplace. They want to see the skills gap in the workplace bridged so that all employees have the same opportunities. If they don’t see a balance for better gender equality, they are more likely to take their skillset and go to a company that appreciates them. 

Low work morale 

Low work morale is detrimental for a business and is often seen as the "silent killer of workplace productivity and overall performance". When an employee can see that they aren't getting the same benefits as their male counterparts, whether it's pay, opportunities or consideration of their needs, they are more likely to feel disengaged, uninspired and lack the capacity for business innovation. While it may take time to see its impact, you will start receiving subpar work from your employees. The big problem with low work morale is that it is contagious. It can easily spread throughout the workplace, leaving you with an even bigger issue than before. If your company culture is important, then inequality within the business needs to be dealt with. 

Legal issues 

Legal issues are never good for a business’s reputation, more so if the public finds out that it’s due to lack of gender equality. This can have an impact on how your customers or clients see the company, and if your target market is mostly women, you can find yourself losing customers. Or customers jumping ship and going to your biggest competitor. Apart from losing customers, if an employee files a lawsuit against your company, those legal issues will require money that could have been saved if gender sensitivity in the workplace was made a priority. 

Low job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is impacted by many factors, such as a good salary, opportunities, and the overall environment. If there is no equal treatment for gender in the workplace, there will be low job satisfaction amongst your team. Employees won’t be eager to do their work, contribute to any new ideas or even work toward creating a healthy environment. In most cases, job satisfaction will either lead to employees seeking employment elsewhere or staying and producing low quality work. 

How to promote gender equality in the workplace 

To help foster a gender-balanced environment, you need to do the following: 
  • Offer the same opportunities for both men and women; this can be through training programs that can help acquire the necessary skills for a new job position. 
  • Be family-centric and provide the women in the workplace a policy that helps those who have a family. This can be through offering flexible hours, encouraging working from home, and having a family-friendly policy. 
  • Give women the recognition they need and encourage women in senior positions to become mentors. 
  • Have an open dialogue on the importance of equality and diversity. 

Final thoughts

Women contribute to the economic development of this country just as much as men do. They have the right to be treated fairly in the workplace. And while there are laws put in place to ensure that, businesses still have a long way to go. If you want to ensure the success of your business, then work toward creating a space that strives for equality and the empowerment of women.   

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