Empowering women in the global workforce: HR strategies for gender equality

How to create a workplace where women can thrive.

Women thriving in the workplace

People Ops leaders play a pivotal role in fostering diversity and inclusion, particularly with regard to gender equality. Women's empowerment is not only a matter of social justice, but also a smart business strategy that can drive innovation, boost performance, and enhance the overall success of global teams. 

In this blog post, we will look into some actionable HR strategies that People Ops leaders in global teams can implement to promote gender equality across diverse cultures and geographies.

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8 strategies for strengthening gender equality

1. Inclusive recruitment practices

Diversity and inclusion begin well before an employee’s start date, and in fact, should start during the recruitment process. Ensure your company has equitable recruitment strategies that prevent discrimination. For instance, you might tailor the language in your job descriptions and required qualifications to attract a diverse pool of candidates. 

Blind recruitment techniques can also be implemented to minimize unconscious biases throughout the hiring process. Through recruitment software and other tools, certain candidate details that could allude to their gender, race, or socioeconomic background are hidden, ensuring that hiring decisions are based solely on their fit for the role. 

Consider leveraging technology for structured interviews and assessment tools to further eliminate any unconscious bias. A global employment partner can help you navigate regional considerations to ensure that your hiring practices support each location’s unique cultural norms.

2. Cultural sensitivity and training

Biases and stereotypes are sometimes unknowingly perpetuated by employees, which can create a workplace environment in which women don’t feel welcome or safe. Be proactive in preventing these issues by designing cultural awareness programs, which should include cross-cultural communication training to bridge gaps and build understanding. Training sessions should also educate employees on using inclusive language and behavior to foster an environment in which all genders and cultures are supported. 

3. Flexible work arrangements

Companies with a strong presence of women holding high-level positions, such as board members, are also more likely to offer flexible work arrangements. Options such as work-from-home or remote arrangements can accommodate diverse cultural norms and family responsibilities.

Global employers must be especially flexible in their scheduling to accommodate time zones and individual preferences. Beyond simply offering these flexible work arrangements, companies must also ensure that their remote team members have access to the resources and technology they’ll need to fulfill their roles effectively. 

4. Mentorship and sponsorship programs

Establishing global mentorship initiatives that connect women with experienced leaders can provide the guidance and support women need to thrive professionally. Employees who have been mentored are five times more likely to get promoted than their non-mentored peers, which is important considering the lack of female representation in top positions at many companies. 

Consider making the mentorship program a component of your overall business strategy and structuring it in a way that mutually benefits the mentor and mentee, such as pairing them together to focus on solving challenges collaboratively. This will communicate the fact that you’re not simply a company to work for, but committed to offering opportunities for career development and success.

In addition to mentorship programs, use sponsorship opportunities to advocate for women's advancement within the organization. You might also encourage cross-border networking and collaboration by connecting employees via virtual platforms. For example, you could establish a dedicated Slack channel to connect women across the global organization.

5. Equal compensation and performance evaluation

An important component of gender equality is preventing pay disparity. It’s not enough to simply implement equitable pay policies—organizations must also conduct routine audits to ensure equitable compensation is being maintained across the globe. This is particularly important for companies with a distributed global workforce. While many nations have recently introduced legislation to promote women’s economic inclusion in the workforce, others still lag behind in ensuring equal pay for women.

Since pay and performance are often linked in organizations, it’s also important to implement transparent performance evaluation processes with clear criteria and metrics. This helps ensure that any promotions or other opportunities are given in a manner that is based on performance, not bias. Finally, should any gender-based pay gaps be discovered, be sure to address them promptly and proactively.

6. Family-friendly policies

Offering comprehensive parental leave policies that consider cultural and legal differences can be an effective way to empower women by supporting their work-life balance. Providing childcare and eldercare support, where feasible, can help women and their families manage caregiving responsibilities.

Be sure to provide access to mental health and well-being resources for employees and their families, as these are among the most important elements within a compensation package outside of pay for most employees.

7. Employee resource groups (ERGs)

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups with members in a workforce who share similar life experiences or characteristics. Oftentimes, ERGs are formed with the intention of providing support, fostering career development, and encouraging personal development. 

Consider forming global ERGs focused on women’s empowerment and gender equality. Provide a platform for employees to share experiences, insights, and solutions. Invite ERGs to collaborate with HR and other departments to help shape company policies and propel new initiatives.

8. Data-driven decision-making

While forming initiatives to support gender equality is important, the only way to tell whether your strategies are working effectively is to collect and analyze diversity and inclusion metrics across regions. Use data to identify any opportunities for improvement, and continue to track progress over time to ensure that you’re accomplishing what your diversity and inclusion programs set out to do. Finally, use these data points to inform decisions that foster global gender equality moving forward, and refine your HR strategies as needed.

As the world becomes more interconnected, the role of People Ops leaders in championing gender equality within global teams becomes increasingly crucial. By implementing these HR strategies that are sensitive to cultural nuances and geographical disparities, organizations can create an inclusive and empowering work environment where women thrive, contribute, and lead. The journey toward global gender equality requires commitment, adaptability, and collaboration, and it is through the collective efforts of People Ops leaders that meaningful change can be achieved on a global scale.

How Oyster can help

Promoting gender equality is important for global organizations, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle of supporting a fulfilled and productive workforce. From recruiting to onboarding, the steps for establishing and growing a global workforce are riddled with complexity. As your global employment partner, Oyster handles these steps for you. Find out more about how we eliminate the barriers to global hiring and help you cultivate an engaged, diverse global team.

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