We are now living in a post-pandemic world. It is a world where the digital economy has taken center stage, and there are more conversations about DEI in the workplace. When it comes to the workplace, the question is, what is the state of gender equality in 2023?
Key takeaways: Gender equality in 2023
- The global pandemic shook up conventional workplaces and set back women’s gains
- The digital revolution has promise but continues to perpetuate underlying gender disparities
- The path to gender equality is long and should not be forgotten when changes happen
- Gender-inclusive workplaces are a future ideal, and DEI practices must continue
Let’s talk about each point in more detail below to provide a snapshot of gender equality in the workplace right now.
The post-pandemic world
The coronavirus pandemic happened, and the world changed. Pre-pandemic, the world still operated in a 20th-century mode where commuting to the office was the norm. Along with this norm were the issues surrounding gender inequality in the workplace. The gender pay gap is still a main issue.
The pandemic shook the world to its core. Suddenly, people could no longer travel to the office, and many offices had to close completely. The world displayed resilience and bounced back, but there have been lasting changes, especially in the mode of working and in roles for women.
While the pandemic affected everyone, it hit women worldwide harder, setting back recent gains made in gender parity in the workplace. While women made up 39 percent of the global workforce, they composed 54 percent of the job losses.
Furthermore, moms took on extra duties with homeschooling and navigated childcare during an uncertain time. Having to decide whether to stop working because of lack of childcare access was a tough decision that many parents had to make. A recent study of over 2,500 working parents found that 26 percent of women stopped working because they did not have childcare.
The digital revolution
The digital revolution has the potential to be beneficial in the quest for gender equality. Digital technologies offer a new avenue to pursue equality with new skills and roles needed in emerging industries. It can improve economies and overall well-being on a global level.
With that being said, research shows that a gender digital divide continues, regardless of how easily countries have access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Women have lower representation in countries that are low, middle, and high-income.
Thus, while you might think digital technologies create a new platform for anyone to operate on, there are obviously still underlying patterns that perpetuate gender equality
Obviously, this is not fair, given that people of any gender can learn the technical skills needed to be successful in the industry. While the digital revolution has the potential to help level the playing field for future generations, it also has the potential to reproduce gender disparities as technology is created by societies that do not value genders equally.
Furthermore, there is still a skills gap across many industries, including digital and software. Adding to the shortage of skilled workers is the underrepresentation of women and other genders in certain roles. It is important for all digital industries to consider their gender balance and investments.
The path to gender equality
Gender balance in business is starting to improve, but there is still a long way to go to reach parity of wages, opportunities, and fairness. Even when we get to a place of equality, it is still important to maintain gender balance efforts to ensure an equal system remains stable. That is one of the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, as discussed earlier.
Better gender representation in industries is a plus for everyone involved as it offers more diverse opinions and builds a sense of community, all of which can lead to smarter business decisions. What’s key here is achieving gender balance at every level of a company.
There are many important features of the path to gender equality, and here are two of them. One is the vision needed to inspire our business leaders to take the right action. The other is the actions required to move the culture forward, toward gender equality in the workplace.
But gender equality is more the gender pay gap; there is work to do in many areas, both at home and overseas, to create the right conditions for people of all gender to thrive equally. To make this a reality, there needs to be a strong focus on improving gender equality in key places.
Gender inclusive workplaces
Discussions about creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment are happening, and that’s a good start. This type of workplace is one in which all employees feel a sense of belonging.
DEI initiatives have the potential to better employee health and well-being. That can happen by improving awareness, properly compensating workers financially, ensuring everyone’s voice gets heard, and more. And while DEI is the right thing to do, the company can benefit overall, too, as productivity can increase, which can boost profits, among other things.
Creating gender-inclusive leadership practices is essential, and businesses are starting to do so. That is, assuming leaders of all genders want to take on higher-level roles and provide them equal support to do so.
A modern workplace also involves breaking stereotypes that impact men and catering to the needs of a modern family. Paternity leave helps to acknowledge the role of men in childcare during the early years.
All this is happening amidst a call by many bosses for employees to return to the workplace at least part-time. That is, rather than working from home full-time as many did during the pandemic. These structural changes, though, could be seen as a positive as companies have the potential to bring in new or improved HR practices that support all genders at work.
Concluding words on gender equality in 2023
Gender equality is still a major talking point in 2023. And it needs to continue to be.
The post-pandemic world has opened up the digital economy. And that has the potential to improve opportunities for women and other genders. But only with a conscious effort to continue doing so, especially after setbacks women in the workplace recently experienced.
There is still the issue of unequal pay, as well as other gender issues in the workplace. It’s clear that any advances need support with ongoing programs and new initiatives for equality.
Every year needs to focus on making workplaces and communities more inclusive, safe, and comfortable for people to live in. Thanks to the efforts of Oxfam and some leading businesses, gender equality remains on the agenda. And that is important for progress.