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Glass Ceilings Tackling Gender Bias at Your Place

by fatweb

As a nation we proudly boast that we were the first country to give woman the vote in national elections. We are also one of the few countries in the world to have had two female heads of government, and one of only two countries to have had a female head of government directly succeed another, the other country being Sri Lanka. 
The government enacted the Equal Pay Act 1972 to address direct and indirect discrimination in wage rates. It required equal pay for women and men in the same job.
On the surface New Zealand does a good job at appearing to have equal opportunities in the business world for women and men. But despite these progressive measures we’ve made towards gender equality, an unconscious gender bias impedes woman at every step of the employment ladder, from job application success to earning the big bucks at the top.
The New Zealand Ministry for Women has recorded the gender pay gap since 1998. The gender pay gap compares the median hourly earnings of women and men in full and part-time work. In 2015 it found that men earned 11.8 percent more than woman in the same role, that’s up from 9.1 percent in 2012.
A Credit Suisse research report on women in senior management, released in 2014, found that women are still poorly represented in New Zealand boardrooms. According to the report, the percentage of women on boards in New Zealand was 19.6 percent in 2011, rising to 21.3 percent in 2012, but this figure had since fallen back to 19.6 percent in 2013.
While a NZX Gender Diversity Statistics report in the same year showed that male directors out numbered females by 88 percent to 12 percent across the 109 participating companies surveyed.
Businesses might like to believe that they make fair evaluations based on employees’ qualifications and quality alone, but the research suggests otherwise. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, gender bias is still alive and well in our country.
So how can you make sure that your unconscious bias is kept at bay? Try implementing some of the following measures:
Assign roles based on ability 
Society holds deeply rooted stereotypes that women are better suited to support, administration and communication based roles, whilst men perform better in leadership positions. It is these stereotypes that form the basis of gender discrimination at work. The allocation of work should be organised purely on the basis of employee’s abilities and not their gender or presumed skills.
Name-blind applications 
You could try hiring staff without knowing the sex of the applicants you’re evaluating. It’s called name-blind applications, where names are removed from CV’s. If you don’t know whether the applicants are women or men then your bias shouldn’t be triggered.
Equal pay 
Equal work should receive equal pay, but unfortunately in New Zealand it does not. Be the change and actively establish a policy in your business that guarantees both your male and female staff are paid equally for the same role.
Talk about it 
Make gender bias a point of discussion amongst senior staff and provide training on how to identify and erase it. Increasing the awareness of unconscious bias can go some way to influencing the outcome of decision around hiring and promotions. Over time it can contribute to a long term perception adjustment and equality in the workplace.
Familiarise yourself with anti-discrimination laws 
As an employer you should have a thorough understanding of the laws in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace, for example equal pay, harassment, victimisation and direct discrimination based on sex.
 
By Laura Baker

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