Businessolver Blog

Women’s Equality: 3 Ways Employers Can Be Inclusive

Women’s Equality: 3 Ways Employers Can Be Inclusive
Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 by Marcy Klipfel

Our 2023 State of Workplace Empathy results were eye-opening. Notably, gaps in women’s equality across organizations at large has us looking at how employers can close the gap.

There’s a 23-point gap between what women feel is equitable compensation versus their CEOs.

This finding is particularly unsettling as women’s financial health hit rock bottom at the end of 2022. This decline was due in part to inflation and the hefty toll the pandemic took on women’s career advancement opportunities.

It’s easy to brush over DEIB statistics without much thought but accepting the status quo doesn’t inspire change. Active allyship is a large part of strengthening DEIB across today’s workplaces, especially for the sake of women’s equality.

Close the gender pay gap

Overall, women across all ethnicities don’t feel that their compensation is equitable with their male peers. As of 2021, women make 80 cents for every dollar men earn, up only 3 cents from 1994.

Beyond pay, employee benefits also lag. With women taking on a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities, benefits like maternity leave, childcare, and flexible work arrangements are now table stakes. These benefits are absolutely baseline for attracting and retaining women employees and creating an inclusive environment.

Yet, our data reveals a disheartening gap. 9 in 10 employees have consistently asked for family-related benefits such as paid leave and flexible work schedules, yet less than half say they have these benefits.

How employers can help:

Conducting a women’s equality salary audit to identify and correct compensation gaps is a good place to start. The wage gap doesn’t just impact women’s earning power today, it seriously impacts their long-term economic security. Employers should address pay inequities and help women optimize their benefits options via personalized decision support.

Guide women towards financial wellbeing tools and support

Women in the U.S. are among the most stressed employees globally. In the current economic climate, financial stress is especially evident as our 2023 Benefits Insights Report revealed:

  • 43% of women say they don’t have a rainy-day fund to cover an unexpected expense vs. 33% of men
  • 52% of women would feel panicked about facing a large, unexpected expense vs. 39% of men
  • 22% of women say they just don’t know how they’d pay for that unexpected expense vs. 15% of men

How employers can help:

Only about half of women (48%) feel confident about their finances, and just 28% feel empowered to take action. Likewise, Businessolver data shows that after five years of tracking benefits literacy, 85% of employees are still confused. This can lead to over- or under-insurance, ultimately costing employees—and employers alike—more money.

Employers should build awareness for all employees about financial wellbeing benefits available to them through their total rewards. Organizations can look at participation data to see if they have an opportunity to market benefits directly to female employees.

Prioritize flexibility

Overall, our Empathy data revealed that remote workers score higher than their non-remote peers with significantly higher feelings of empathy. But while 94% of employees value flexible work hours as empathetic, the option is only offered at 38% of organizations.

Even more surprising is that remote workers score higher for inclusivity, belonging, and connectedness than their non-remote peers. This finding is particularly true for women. Non-remote women are the least likely to feel they can be authentic or that their company supports women’s equality.

It makes sense then that RTO policies have impacted women’s wellness and their mental health. In fact, 39% of female HR professionals said their company’s RTO policies have negatively impacted their mental health versus 16% of their male counterparts.

How employers can help:

Fostering workplace flexibility creates more inclusive and equitable workplaces for women of all ethnicities, but particularly women of color who experience bias and high barriers to entry to work. While autonomy is a key benefit of flexible work, hybrid and remote work decreases microaggressions and promotes psychological safety.

Despite limited progress, there is a silver lining. Women are prioritizing their financial wellbeing and now make up more than 10% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Accelerating progress hinges on putting strategies into place that deepen DEIB initiatives for women’s equality across the board. Being supportive allies in the pursuit of women’s financial wellbeing isn’t enough. Organizations have an opportunity to be more than allies to women and translate advocacy into action.