Gender Equality in the Workplace: Tackling Pay Gaps

Pay Gap

Gender Equality in the Workplace: Tackling Pay Gaps

13 Aug, 2019

It was very recently that Ursula von der Leyen, a German politician and the President-elect of the European Commission, made waves when she stated that her primary goal in her new role would be to make gender equality the cornerstone of her mission.


Pay gaps and gender equality in the workplace are not a new topic. In fact, with the rise of the #metoo movement and gender pay gaps remaining, these issues are more important than perhaps they ever have been. 


At Heartpace, we want to provide you with the tools you need to promote gender equality in the workplace and guidelines to make sure you create a culture of equality in your business. Read on for in-depth information about the potential barriers to gender equality in the workplace and how to better promote gender equality.


Why is Gender Equality Important in the Workplace?

Not only is gender equality important, but it should be an inherent quality of your organization. While strides have indeed been made to improve gender equality, there remains a “glass ceiling” that prevents females and also minorities from gaining fair, equal pay and reaching higher levels of salary and position. 


Female workers are still earning much less than their male counterparts, plus, females are underrepresented in upper management roles. According to Payscale, in 2019, females earned 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. In addition, Catalyst reports that women currently hold under a quarter (24%) of senior roles on a global scale.


Gender equality and general diverse representation is important in the workplace because the world still has a long way to go in terms of progress.


What are the Barriers to Gender Equality in the Workplace?

There are several barriers that can creep their way into the workplace, making it more difficult for all workers to have an equal footing. Here are some of the main barriers to gender equality in the workplace:


Women have cited that in order to receive praise and recognition for their work, they must put more effort toward their jobs than their male peers. A study conducted by the University of Virginia and Washington State University ran five different surveys spanning different years, and each time, women in the UK and US were significantly more likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement: “my job requires that I work very hard”. The contribution women make in the workplace, unfortunately, can often go unnoticed or praised, which creates barriers for equality.

Appearance expectations

Traditionally in society, there have been expectations placed on women on how they should look and dress in the workplace. Specifically, the unspoken rule can be that women aren’t entirely professional if they aren’t in skirts, heels, or wearing makeup. 


Microaggressions refer to the seemingly small discriminations that when piled up, leave women in the workplace toward feeling unequal. This could be anything from having her ideas or judgment routinely questioned, being mistaken for a lower-level employee, or a passive comment made about appearance. According to The Muse, 64% of women cited experiencing microaggressions at work, which increases to 71% for lesbian women.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, a very real barrier that women face in the workplace. According to i-sight, 81% of people surveyed believe sexual harassment goes on in most American workplaces today, yet 90% believed in wasn’t an issue in their own workplace. 


Furthermore, 54% of women surveyed reported experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, with 30% citing that the advances involved men at work. As much as 23% of women said the harassment involved a superior.



How to Promote Better Gender Equality in the Workplace

Implement a zero-tolerance policy for harassment

It can be intimidating for people within a business to come forward with a complaint of harassment. As much as 94% of those saying they experienced some form of harassment did not file a complaint, and in many companies, if a complaint is made, it can get ignored. 


Start by creating policies in the workplace around harassment to prevent further cases from happening again. Workers need to see and feel that there is accountability and real repercussions if any form of harassment has taken place. 


Here are some helpful tips for implementing a hard policy against harassment in the workplace.

Remove the gender pay gap

There are several ways to remove the gender pay gap within your company. First, start by doing an in-depth analysis. The main goals of conducting an analysis should be reviewing salary, who is underpaid, and the steps that led to that result. You can even use a software to help you:


  • Segment salaries by position, job level, gender, and other factors important to your business.
  • Use the data gathered to identify any trends, and more specifically, outlying salaries.
  • Balance men and women at different levels of management.
  • Take a close look at hiring practices. Specifically, whether an employee’s pay was based on her previous wage and how many rounds of negotiations took place for men v. women when they were hired.


In many countries, you also must adhere to laws regarding gender pay. You can learn more about pay gap analysis policies in specific European countries in our other blog post here.

Promote a good work/life balance

A good work/life balance is not only important for women but men as well. Work/life balance policies can look different depending on your company structure or even location. 


Employees will be less likely to face burn-out, especially those that have important priorities outside of work, such as caring for children or elderly parents—the majority of which tend to fall on the shoulders of female workers. In fact, there is still a gap in mothers’ and fathers’ labor force participation rates.


Google work/life balance can mean things such as:


  • Ample paid time off for personal and sick days
  • Opportunities to work from home if possible
  • Flexible working hours
  • Promoting health initiatives


You may even try sending out a survey to your workers to ask specifically what they need from the company. This tactic is not just beneficial for women in the workplace but also makes everyone feel like their voice and preferences will be heard.

Encourage mentorship

Having an experienced mentor to aid and advise in professional development is not only beneficial for women but the company as a whole. While movements like #metoo are bringing to light the fact that clear boundaries need to be in place (and stated clearly) in the workplace, there is no reason why males cannot mentor female employees and vice versa.


The last thing you would want to do in your business is to make female employees feel isolated even more. Promoting a mentorship program is a great way to foster better understanding and communication in the workplace between males and females and upper and lower management.


One business alone cannot solve all of the world’s gender discrimination problems. But you can make big strides toward making the workplace a more encouraging and comfortable environment for everyone involved. If you’re wondering how to start with this, we have another article on asking for feedback in your organization which might be the helpful start you need. 



How Heartpace Can Help Prevent Gender Pay Gaps

Heartpace can help you make a detailed analysis of your data so you can better understand the specific reasons behind any pay gaps in your organization. You can get instant reports and data showing you:


  • Analysis of different positions within the company
  • Look into the complexity of positions that are categorized at the same level
  • Groups/departments which are the most pay gap dominant


Discover more about what Heartpace can offer you in terms of pay gap analysis at


We hope this has been an informative piece highlighting gender equality in the workplace, why gender equality is important in the workplace, how to promote better gender equality practices in your organization and the signs to look out for when gender treatment may not be equal. 

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