It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until 1977 that The Canadian Human Rights Act was passed, forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex and ensuring equal pay for equal work for women. However, even after 45 years have passed, women still make significantly less than men in Canada.

In a workplace that was designed by men, for men, women continue to face bias and barriers that hinder them from achieving the career success they need and deserve. 

So here are a few tips to implement which will help empower women in the workplace and bring us one step closer to achieving wage equity.

Give women a seat at the table

Profits thrive when women are given a seat at the table. The Peterson Institute for International Economics completed a survey that showed companies with women at the executive level significantly increased their net margins. The study showed that businesses who went from 0% women in leadership to 30% women in leadership lead to a 15% increase in profitability.

There’s no mistaking it – women’s ideas, contributions and leadership abilities are an undervalued asset. When women’s voices are heard, everyone wins. 

So, what can you do to amplify the voices of women in your workplace?

  1. Give women space in meetings to voice their ideas and opinions. Studies show that women are far more likely than men to be talked over.
  2. Use this genius amplification strategy used by women in the White House. When you hear a women speak in a meeting, amplify her comment and give her credit by saying things like “I loved INSERT NAME’s comment” or “I support INSERT NAME’s idea”.
  3. Make a point of celebrating women at work. Recognize them for their successes and give them appropriate recognition for their contributions.

Diversify leadership roles by hiring and promoting women

More women than ever are entering and participating in Canada’s workforce. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 82% of women aged 25 to 54 are working, but only 25% of vice-president positions, and 15% of CEO positions are held by women. Furthermore, women comprise only 19.5% of board seats for Canada’s top 500 companies and just 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies.

Marian Wright Edelman famously said, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” When young women and girls don’t see leaders that share their identities, they have less confidence to go after their dreams and professional aspirations.

One way we can empower women to achieve leadership positions is by providing mentorships and programs that give opportunities for women to take on leadership responsibilities. But the best way by far to inspire more young women to pursue their career goals is to promote and hire women directly into leadership roles.

Woman sitting at a table smiling - Tips For Empowering Women in the Workplace | Wage Equity

Stand up to gender bias 

Gender bias towards women shows up in many ways, both in and out of the office. Many times, these biases are unconscious, meaning that individuals don’t realize what their doing and the impact of their actions. The first step to addressing gender bias through education. If employees don’t understand and learn to recognize their own gender biases, or know how they impact their female colleagues, they won’t have to tools to address and change their behavior.

Anyone can stand up to gender bias by making the unconscious conscious. If you witness an off-the-cuff joke, an unkind comment, or a subtle behavior, don’t be afraid to respectfully point it out. This isn’t about embarrassing or belittling anyone, it’s about keeping each other accountable to create a safer and more equitable space for everyone.

Provide equal pay for equal work 

Wage equity is critical to building diverse and inclusive workplaces, and a better, more equitable world. Some progress has been made since the wage equity movement started, but according to 2021 World Economic Forum estimates, if action isn’t taken, it may take up to 136 years before the gender pay gap is closed.

It’s time to stop undervaluing women and minorities in our workforce by committing to wage equity. Start today by taking the Pledge to pay employees the same for work of equal value.