#BalanceforBetter: 5 things every woman needs to demand from an employer for equality

Hilary Stephenson, MD of tech company Sigma is working hard in her male-dominated industry to level gender imbalance - not just for women, but transgender and non-binary individuals too. Here are few basic things she believes every woman should demand from an employer to ensure they are being treated equally...

by Psychologies

4 minute read

Over the last 12 months, women’s rights have dominated the headlines. Milestone achievements such as the repeal of Ireland’s abortion ban and movements like #metoo are proof that things are moving in the right direction to achieve gender equality – not just for women, but transgender and non-binary individuals as well.

However, that being said, there is still a long way to go before a truly level playing field is achieved. This applies to all aspects of life but particularly within the workplace. Nike’s recent gender discrimination lawsuit highlights this, providing yet another shocking example of the ongoing gender pay gap.

So, what can be done to ensure that women - and indeed all genders - are treated equally at work? It seems clear that if you don’t ask, then you don’t get. Therefore, sadly, the onus is on women to identify what areas of their working life need improving and to make sure employers take the appropriate action to rectify these issues.

With this in mind, here are five things every woman should be aware of and have access to at work. If anybody is being deprived of one or more of the below, it is time to demand for change:

  1. Real leadership opportunities – worryingly research has found that women are more likely to get offered “glass cliff” positions – leadership opportunities with high stakes and an increased likelihood of failure. In contrast, men who receive senior promotions are generally offered more support and resources. This stresses the need for women to be provided with fairer progression opportunities. One way of monitoring this is by pushing for clear career advancement plans as well as regular performance reviews. This will allow you to assess whether or not you are on track and if that is due to personal development, or because of the lack of opportunities presented to you.
  2. Gender equality on promotion and hiring panels – one key way of addressing workplace equality is by demanding hiring and promotion panels represent gender equality. As more women, transgender and non-binary individuals become decision makers, with these processes, a more balanced workforce is likely to emerge. If current panels do not reflect this ideology, this issue needs to be raised to senior management as a call to action to address this going forward.
  3. Flexible working – there is no denying that everyone – regardless of gender – should be able to achieve a flexible working schedule. Studies have even shown that this is key to boosting wellbeing and happiness. However, given that women are still largely responsible for childcare, it is important that employers recognise the need to help women, in particular, shape a job around their individual requirements. To achieve a reasonable level of flexibility, employees need to ensure they are given perks such as flexi-time and the option to work remotely.
  4. Gender diverse role models – in order to help women strive to achieve greatness within a company, there needs to be a range of triumphant role models that have already succeeded within that organisation. This helps further break any looming glass ceilings that may have previously been in place. A great way of ensuring this is the case, is by shouting about the successes of senior female members of staff within both internal and external marketing communications. Weekly newsletters, social media outlets and regular company meetings are just a few examples of platforms where organisations can shine the spotlight on their inspirational female figures.
  5. Equal pay - this is an obvious point but, arguably, one of the most important. Despite the creation of the Equal Pay act of 1963, an unfair gender pay gap still remains. Therefore, every woman must make sure they are being paid the same as everyone else with the same job title. Requesting a meeting with a representative from a company’s HR department is always a good place to start when raising this issue. From there, employees can air their opinions and push for action. These discussions should also be followed up if nothing is done to rectify issues within a couple of weeks.

The fact that women are having to make these demands highlights the extent of the problem. Female equality in the workplace should be a given, not something you are forced to campaign for. Nevertheless, if you continue shying away from asking for what you are entitled to, the situation is unlikely to change. Be bold, ask the right questions and don’t take no for an answer.


Written by Hilary Stephenson, managing director at user experience agency Sigma.

About Sigma Established in 2007, Sigma is a leading digital User Experience (UX) agency, which designs, develops and supports information-rich web sites, intranets, mobile solutions and applications. By putting users at the heart of its solutions, Sigma helps to add genuine business value and bring people together. The team believes strongly in developing long term, mutually beneficial strategic partnerships with its customers, with key clients including InterContinental Hotels Group, Sport England and the BBC. 


related news & articles