In Light of the Anniversary
The US celebrated Women's Equality Day on August 26th, commemorating the addition of the 19th Constitutional Amendment. It’s been 102 years since it was ratified. This amendment gave the right of US citizens to vote regardless of sex. An amendment was proposed in 1923 to extend this to equal rights under the law. This is the Equal Rights Amendment.
After Congress passed the ERA in 1972, most states ratified it in the early to late 70s. However, there are a few states that did not ratify until about 6 years ago, or as recent as 2020. These states did not approve the ERA before the deadline, so it has not been added to the Constitution. There are currently 12 states that have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.
As another anniversary of Women’s Equality Day passed, we felt compelled to contribute to the conversation. The movement for Women’s Rights has been ongoing for nearly two centuries. As part of the movement, equity in the workplace has been a topic of discussion. While the wage gap has decreased over the years, the gap still exists by an average of 17%. A 2017 Pew Research study reported that 42% of women said they have experienced workplace discrimination based on sex, and provided an array of examples. As more and more women entered the workforce in the 1900s, the existence of discrimination and harassment has been increasingly recognized as well.
What Can We Do About It?
It can be difficult to understand what sort of influence we have on inequality. Here are a few ways you can have an impact in the workplace:
If you are in a position of...
Ensure hiring decisions are not being made on the basis of sex. Women report feeling discriminated against when they have been told they are incompetent or less competent than their men counterparts. Women have also reported being turned down for a job due to discrimination. When faced with the choice of candidates, work to remove biases and allow the decision to come from a place of equity. Reformat the application process to be anonymous, so you enter the choice with Applicant 1 and 2, not "Susie" and "Jim." This will allow you to view applications without names or other gendered indications which can support an unconscious bias.
Ensure salary is represented fairly, beyond the influence of sex. An aspect of discrimination that shows up repeatedly in reports, is women earning less than men for doing the same job or being denied for promotions. Make salary decisions on the basis of qualifications, experience, and the like. For instance, is there a woman who has been an employee for 5+ years and has not received a promotion or bonus, while a man in an equal position with the same amount of experience has? Take the time to evaluate employees' solely by their experience and the work they have provided, then distribute salary accordingly.
Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Promote and create DEI programs for your company, or spread the word of and support any current programs. Search for upcoming events in your area to attend as part of a company outing. For instance, the Office of Financial Management has a public event calendar for virtual meetings over DEI related topics. Invite all people to partake in conversations surrounding women’s equality and other DEI topics.
These are great ways to support women within the workplace.
How do we do this as individuals?
Do you notice discrimination and harassment in the workplace? Do you experience it? Have you told somebody? It's the same advice we give children when they witness or experience bullying at school: tell a trusted adult! Speak with someone in a position that's prepared to handle these kinds of situations. Find out what support you have as an employee, and utilize it!
Support Women Business Owners!
You’ve heard the phrase “buy local,” well, what about “buy from women-owned businesses?” According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as of 2017, more than 11.6 million businesses in the US are owned by women. Your Clear Next Step is one of them! Buy products and services from women-owned businesses, recognize them on social media, and encourage others to follow your suit!
Learn more about women’s equality and how it impacts you or people you know. Get involved in clubs or organizations that support women and women business owners. Join the conversations surrounding women’s equality. Spread the word; share what you learn and invite others to join you in your support!
Anyone can support women, in big ways and small, particularly in the workplace. Which of these ways will you try? What will your influence be?