Mar Gayà interview: gender equality in the workplace
The expert on equality policies gives an analysis of the stages required to implement a strategy against inequality in the workplace
The application of equality policies in the workplace is a necessity, not just because it represents a step forward towards an equal society, but also because it is a legal requirement. Since the Act on effective equality among men and women was passed in 2007, it became compulsory for Spanish companies with more than 250 workers to design and implement an equality plan.
In this interview, the gender-policy implementation consultant, Mar Gayà, offers us some hints about how to go about designing an equality plan, and paints a picture of the work-related differences which still exist between men and women.
These are some of the issues which Gayà highlights in the interview.
The need for a diagnostic phase
An equality plan cannot appear out of thin air. The aim is to create a made-to-measure approach so that men and women can have the same opportunities in the organization. To achieve this, it's necessary to take a snapshot of the company.
The diagnosis must analyse the organisational culture of the company and should inevitably include a demographic study of how many female and male staff there are, their employment status, departmental position, working hours, type of contract and level of training. Finally, an analysis is carried out on the processes of selection, promotion and employee training and also on the remuneration policies.
In a nutshell, this diagnosis should include both a quantitative and qualitative analysis, which can include issues such as the existence or non existence of inclusive communication - both verbal and visual - and a plan to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, for example.
The current situation in Spain
According to Gayà, the reality in Spanish companies is that, despite there being a numerical balance between genders in the staff, the presence of female employees progressively drops off the further you go up the hierarchical ladder. According to our expert, this type of vertical segregation is a reality in almost all companies.
Stereotypes are the first barrier
We are disillusioning ourselves: we still associate power with masculinity. This is the main thing standing in the way of women being promoted to positions of responsibility. Gayà understands that these stereotypes also affect the assessment of work from one person to the next. “A man will get promoted because of his potential: what he could do. A woman will get promoted because of what she has demonstrated that she can do, and this means she is always under close watch and more is demanded of her.”
If in 2016 women earn 24% less than men in the same positions, there is no denying the fact that we still have a long way to go. Companies are reluctant to change, which is why Gayà is speaking out in favour of bringing gender equality to the workplace through legislation. “Equality quotas are now normal practice in Nordic countries. It is the way to achieve gender-equal steering committees. This simply means that, as well as considering professional competence, companies select the person of the under-represented sex.”
To find out how to apply equality policies in the workplace and take a closer look at some model examples, check out our course “Gender equality in the workplace".
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