Gender Equality in the Workplace: What it Means and How We Can Get There

Published by:
Valerie Valmores
March 8, 2024
min read

International Women's Day serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality across all societal pillars, including the workplace. A truly equitable workplace fosters fair treatment and equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.

This environment empowers everyone to flourish and reach their full potential, contributing to a more diverse, vibrant, and successful society.

As we join the global conversation around #InvestInWomen, let's delve deeper, what does a truly gender-equal workplace look like?

1. Equal Pay for Equal Work

The gender pay gap – the difference in average earnings between men and women – is a persistent issue that demands immediate attention. One effective solution is regular pay audits. Studies by the OECD show a clear link: countries that conduct these audits tend to have smaller gender pay gaps. Studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that countries with regular pay audits tend to have a smaller gender pay gap. Implementing regular pay audits can be a valuable tool for identifying and addressing pay discrepancies based on gender, ultimately contributing to a more equitable workplace.

Here at Applied, we believe salary transparency is key. This means being open about how salaries and how they are determined. Being transparent about pay (the link between contributions, performance, and salary) reduces the risk of pay discrepancies caused by irrelevant factors.

2. Representation at All Levels

The "broken ladder" metaphor aptly describes the challenges women face in ascending to leadership positions. Despite strides, the "broken ladder" metaphor persists, highlighting the systemic challenges women face in reaching leadership positions. Biased practices and limited access to opportunities create an uneven playing field. Here's how we can fix the ladder:

  • Skills-based hiring: Focusing on objective criteria (skills) to mitigate unconscious bias and ensure the most qualified, regardless of gender, are chosen.
  • Mentorship & Sponsorship: Connecting women with experienced mentors for guidance and sponsors who actively advocate for their advancement, addressing the lack of access to crucial support networks.
  • Targeted Leadership Programs: By addressing the unique challenges women face, these programs equip participants with the skills and knowledge to flourish in leadership roles.

3. Fair Opportunities for Advancement

The Society for Human Resource Management emphasises the importance of clear career pathing, which outlines expectations and development opportunities for all employees. This provides everyone, regardless of gender, with a clear understanding of the steps needed to progress in their careers.

4. Supportive Work-Life Balance Policies

Flexible work arrangements and inclusive parental policies allow both men and women to manage their personal and professional lives effectively, leading to equal opportunities for career advancement and participation in responsibilities outside of work.  Investing in or advocating for affordable childcare and eldercare options can alleviate caregiving burdens and allow individuals to fully participate in the workforce.

Studies confirm flexible work benefits everyone. Companies offering flexible arrangements report increased productivity (38%) and employee belief in higher individual productivity (46%). (Source: CIPD 2023)

5. A Culture of Respect and Inclusion

 A zero-tolerance approach to harassment and discrimination is essential. Open communication, EDI training & workshops, and a culture of mutual respect create a safe and inclusive work environment for all.

The Benefits of Gender Equality

Beyond the ethical imperative, gender equality in the workplace brings tangible benefits to businesses:

  • A 2022 McKinsey & Company report found that companies with the highest gender diversity on executive teams had a 25% higher chance of outperforming on profitability. 
  • A growing body of research suggests that gender diversity in the workplace leads to increased productivity, higher employee retention and satisfaction.
  • Gender-diverse teams are better equipped to leverage diverse perspectives. This diversity fuels creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.

What can we do?

Achieving gender equality in the workplace requires action from individuals, employers, and communities collectively.


  • Challenge harmful stereotypes and bias: Speak up against generalisations and assumptions based on gender, both in professional and personal settings.
  • Promote gender-neutral language: Be mindful of the language you use and avoid phrases that perpetuate stereotypes or reinforce gender inequalities.
  • Become an ally: Support organisations and initiatives working towards gender equality. Offer your time, skills, or resources to further the cause.
  • Educate yourself: Stay informed about current issues related to gender equality. This can involve attending workshops and reading articles on relevant topics.


  • Establish clear and transparent promotion criteria: Develop objective criteria for promotion and advancement based on skills, experience, and performance, and communicate these criteria clearly to all employees.
  • Provide mentorship and sponsorship opportunities: Connect women with experienced mentors and sponsors who can guide them through career development, provide guidance, and advocate for their advancement.
  • Offer flexible and remote work options: Recognise that work-life balance is crucial for all genders and provide options such as flexible hours and remote work opportunities to allow employees to manage their personal and professional lives effectively.
  • Conduct pay audits and address any identified pay gaps: Regularly assess compensation data to ensure equal pay for equal work across genders and address any discrepancies.
  • Offer inclusive parental leave policies: Provide parental leave options for all genders, including fathers and non-birthing parents, to encourage equal participation in childcare and family responsibilities.
  • Create employee resource groups (ERGs): Encourage the formation of employee-led groups that provide support, networking opportunities, and professional development for women and other underrepresented groups within your organisation.


  • Advocate for policies and regulations that promote workplace equality: Use your voice and platform to advocate for policies and regulations that promote gender equality in the workplace, such as pay transparency laws or mandated parental leave for all genders.

Building a gender-equal workplace is a shared responsibility.

By working together, we can create a world where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.