Gender Equality in 2022: An HR Perspective

From Miray Rossi, Senior Human Resources Manager, BEN

What internal initiatives in place that help enforce and encourage gender equality in the workplace?

BEN is a data driven company, and data points are our currency. To that end, we in HR are committed to performing regular audits, compiling data, and presenting results to executive leadership, including the CEO.  These audits keep us honest, limit assumption-based decision making, and help us achieve our continual goal of gender equality and representation. Additionally, the company completely rebuilt the maternity/paternity leave plans, starting with scrapping the gender-based nomenclature.  It is no longer routed in gender, at all.  The New Parent Leave is simplified, generous, and inclusive of what we have in the past defined as “non-traditional” family structure.  For example, new parents who are the primary care givers, regardless of gender, may take 16 weeks of new parent leave to welcome a new child into the home through natural birth, surrogacy, adoption, and foster care.  By only offering such leave to women, companies are perpetuating the cycle of relegating care giving predominantly to women.  Whereas, offering the same amount of leave, regardless of gender, can promote gender equality in both society and the workplace.  Finally, according to a Swedish government study, there is data that shows providing paternity leave could help to narrow the gender pay gap.  Focusing on gender equality is something we can all support.

McKinsey and Oxford Economics estimate that women have accounted for nearly 56% of total workforce exits since the start of the pandemic. What are some ways we can slow this down?

Women in the workforce have been facing the same challenges for decades, and the solution for increasing their engagement, loyalty, and overall job satisfaction starts with flexibility. The challenge of balancing work and personal obligations, including, but certainly not limited to the responsibility of being the primary care givers to our children, spouses, and parents, has not changed and shows no real signs of changing.  One way we are re-examining our policies and practices to retain our quality talent (with a focus on our female talent) is to take a more human and more flexible approach to work schedules, as well as offering work from home options and part-time opportunities.  Additionally, we long ago tackled the gender pay gap issue, and the company is more focused than ever in ensuring truly equal pay and representation across all levels.  This means ensuring that women have the same advancement opportunities as their male counterparts.  The reality remains that often it is a man who is in the position to determine who will be promoted and who will receive recognition, and unconscious bias, in all its forms, impacts women tremendously.  Therefore, we have prioritized learning and development initiatives to retrain our brains and breaking old habits to view all employees through a unified, more inclusive lens.  And we are normalizing the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We will not be successful retaining our female talent if we are unwilling to address our deficiencies.

How do you value mentorship at your agency/organization?

We deeply value learning and professional development, and mentorship is a vital component. We rolled out an Executive Leadership Program for a select number of employees who have been nominated and identified as future industry leaders, and we expect the 2nd cohort to at least double in size.  Employees selected participate in a year-long program, kicking off with an immersive leadership retreat in Hawaii.  Participants are partnered with an executive member of the C Suite and receive tailored training and development to help them achieve their career goals.  The participants meet with their mentors at least once a month to discuss and work through a variety of topics, including how to be inspirational and authentic leaders, how to have difficult conversations with direct reports, and how best to conduct themselves in company meetings.  It is access to successful, high-achieving individuals at BEN that can make a real impact on employee development, and strong, female mentors can influence and correct unconscious bias.

Does BEN sound like the right place for you? We’re hiring!

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