Last week, the world went agog. It was international women’s day. Another moment to remind us about the importance of women, respecting women, enlightening women and elevating women in the society.
Praises were being sung, campaigns were launched, events were held and every segment of the society tried to celebrate one woman or the other. While it was quite exciting and soothing to behold all the amazing sceneries just for women, a feeble fear lurked in my heart, about what happens next? What happens after the international women’s day?
Do we stick to our commitment to making the world a better place by following up the conversations with desired actions or is it just a one-day event? Below are a few things we can do at our various workplaces to #breakthebias.
Fight gender wage-gap disparity
It is heartbreaking and it is one of the inequalities I find most difficult to comprehend but sadly, this still exists in the system. According to Forbes, in 2021, for every 1 dollar a man earns, a woman makes 82 cents.
To put it in proper perspective, a woman earns about 82% of what a man earns despite doing exactly similar work with similar job descriptions and responsibilities. It might look minute until you think about this gap in thousands and hundreds of thousands or millions.
Research has also shown that women find it difficult to negotiate and ask for what they deserve, compare to men who are bold and bullish, thus it is your task as an organization to ensure that women are being paid what they deserve, beyond what they ask for.
Skills/Competence focused programs for women
Last year, we saw a couple of skills-focused for women, from Design-fund for women by Cowrywise, to Kuda female-focused internships which were amazing. Companies should continuously focus on different programs that enhance inclusion across diverse competence, especially in a fast-paced skills centric world.
As at 2021, the ratio of male to female designers was 5:1, which means you see five male designers before you see a female designer. I am almost certain the same is obtainable in the Dev and data analysis space. This kind of narrative can only be changed by deliberately investing in women and enhancing their capacities.
Leadership and managerial capacities
Beyond having a gender-balanced workforce, it is more important to have a leadership that is gender-balanced. According to Business Inside Africa, the average percentage of women at the executive level in Nigeria is 20 per cent which is higher than the global average of 17 per cent. Furthermore, the average percentage of women at the board level is 23 per cent, which is close to the average of 25 per cent globally.
The growth is noticeable but it can be better, the easy translation of this data is that in a room of 10 executives, only 2 are women and in a board meeting of 12 people, only 3 are women. Not fair enough, right? Companies should enrol their female staff in leadership programs, develop feasible and scalable succession planning and institute a clear career path that shows a transparent climb to the top of the ladder.
One of the best changes that has happened in recent times is increasing the length of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks. This was a really commendable move by the Nigerian government. Companies should institute more gender-friendly policies, structures and systems. Whether it is an elaborate encompassing HMO, or having creche at work or close to work, not shying away from the peculiarities of women’s needs is very pivotal to the productivity of the female staff.
War against sexual harassment
Is there a gender equality discussion that doesn’t involve sexual harassment? It is very important that effective sexual harassment policies are in place. That people are continuously educated about sexual harassment policies, about the importance of staying away from sexual harassment, that reports of sexual harassment are properly investigated and not swept under the carpet, that provocative words are not passed on as innocuous jokes and everyone is their sister’s keeper.
IWD is not a day’s celebration, it is a continuous call to action. How are you breaking the bias today? Please share below.