Whether it’s unequal pay, sexual harassment, or difficulties getting hired or promoted, a lack of gender equality in the workplace continues to hamper women and LGBTQIA+ people. Though gender discrimination is unlawful, and despite recent pushes for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the problem persists.
We have laws like the Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to pay women the same as their male peers, and Title VII, which bars many forms of employment discrimination. Yet it’s obvious that such laws haven’t fixed everything. Women are still paid less than men, and courts are still filled with discrimination lawsuits.
It’s clear that addressing gender discrimination is a job not just for lawmakers, but for society in general. That includes businesses and employees.
Ideas for Employers to Reduce Gender Discrimination
Here are a handful of practical ideas for reducing gender bias and discrimination at your company:
Leadership roles: Create policies and goals around hiring women and LGBTQIA+ people for leadership and board positions.
Gender-neutral recruiting: Use gender-neutral language in job postings, standardize interview practices, and conduct blind resume reviews.
Training: Provide regular, repeated education on unconscious gender bias to employees and leaders.
Clear policy: Have a clear, non-retaliatory gender discrimination policy that gives employees a proper avenue to raise concerns, and make sure all employees know about it.
Childcare: Consider offering childcare benefits to help attract more candidates who are also parents.
PTO and family leave: Reevaluate your leave policies and implement changes that better accommodate parents and soon-to-be parents.
What Employees Can Do About Workplace Gender Discrimination
Job applicants and current employees clearly have less power than their employers. However, you do have rights. You can:
Speak out: You have the right to talk about discrimination with coworkers. You can tell your company that you think a policy is discriminatory or that a boss is discriminating against you or others.
Report incidents: You can talk to your HR department and submit a report in writing by email or letter.
File a complaint: If your company doesn’t resolve the issue after you report it, you may be able to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or state employment agency. You should talk to a lawyer first to make sure everything is in order and all deadlines are met.
Lawsuit: Filing a lawsuit becomes an option only after filing an EEOC or state agency complaint and the agency issues a Right to Sue letter.
Remember, it’s illegal for employers to retaliate against you for taking any of these actions. They cannot demote you, fire you, cut your pay or take any other adverse action. If they do, you should talk to a lawyer about filing a retaliation claim.
Legal Advice and Advocacy on Gender-Related Employment Issues
As an experienced employment and civil rights attorney, I take pride in counseling employers and employees on issues related to gender equality and discrimination. If you have questions or concerns about your workplace, please contact my Minneapolis office to schedule a consultation.
Joshua Newville is a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator. Josh litigates and advises on such matters as wrongful termination, whistleblowers, discrimination, police misconduct, and more. He offers paid legal consultations and free online case reviews regarding employment law and civil rights.