Did you know that August 26 was Women’s Equality Day? This annual celebration honors the 19th Amendment, which officially granted women the right to vote when it was certified on that day in 1920. The passage of the amendment was a monumental culmination of the suffrage movement first led by brave women in the mid-1800s. The fight for equality didn’t stop there, of course. Exactly 50 years to the day after women gained the right to vote, activists staged the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970, advocating for equal opportunities in employment and education. The following year, a bill was introduced in Congress to annually recognize August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
In the 21st century, the conversation has shifted from not just equality for all genders, which is a requirement under federal and many state laws, but true equity, giving women and other diverse groups the resources and opportunities to show up in work and life with all their skills and talents and to have the tools and support needed to achieve their true potential. We have written previously on the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion to business success.
Although women were granted the right to vote more than a century ago, the struggle for not just equality, but true equity, continues. Fortunately, more and more companies are seeing the opportunities that come with creating a more equitable workplace—in hiring and retaining top talent, in attracting a wider customer base and in having a competitive edge.
Here are some expert tips for creating a more equitable business environment that can help you succeed.
It’s no secret there has historically been a wage gap between men and women in all corners of the professional world. While that gap has shrunk in many areas, small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) can set the bar by training managers and recruiters in how to make equitable offers to candidates based solely on experience, skills and requirements of the position. Working with HR services professionals can help your company with best practices on salary and recruiting efforts. Showing that equity is a priority from the start can only help businesses attract more diverse and qualified talent.
Providing fair and equitable wages to the women in your workforce is just the beginning. Giving professional development and career growth opportunities to employees regardless of gender will be key to enhancing equity in your business. Whether it’s continued learning programs for advancing technical skills, tuition reimbursement for certifications or advanced degrees, leadership development courses, or simply a budget for external workshops and conferences, employees should be entitled to equal opportunities to progressing along their chosen career paths. Likewise, the promotional process should be just as inclusive of women as it might be of men within the company. As with the hiring process, promote employees based on their individual qualifications without involving gender bias.
When it comes to employee benefits, robust health insurance plans are often a priority for job seekers. Providing equitable access to medical coverage means being considerate of concerns specific to women’s health. It’s important employers offer plans that cover a wide-range of medical expenses that cover the gamut of healthcare needs that a diverse employee population could potentially require. Health coverage can also be supplemented with other benefits such as flexible spending accounts, employee assistance programs (EAP), or medical travel reimbursement.
TriNet recently announced the launch of Enrich™, a revolutionary product line that will expand the benefits SMBs can offer their employees. Enrich Access will allow TriNet customers to offer tax-free travel reimbursements to their employees for medical care received far from their home. Enrich Adopt will allow TriNet customers to offer their employees tax-favored reimbursements for expenses incurred during the adoption process.
Many women in the workforce also have a second job: they’re moms, too! Offering paid parental benefits goes well beyond just the healthcare aspect. For employees who are new moms (or will be soon), maternity or parental leave is likely the first parental benefits that companies grant. Other important considerations when creating a parent-friendly workplace might include longer or more frequent breaks for nursing mothers, childcare options, flexible scheduling, and working remotely.
Equitable benefits can go a long way for working women, but there is something to be said for inclusive culture at your company’s core. Having a dedicated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) team is foundational to maintaining a positive culture that embraces differences among employees. SMBs might also consider implementing employee resource groups (ERGs), which are internal networks connecting individuals with shared interests, such as lived experiences or issues related to race and gender. Company cultures that actively participate in such inclusive practices help minimize discrimination and improve equity for their employees, regardless of gender.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.
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