Men and Women Agree: Employers Must Do More

A new survey finds a majority of employees–both men and women–feel their employers are not doing enough to promote gender equality and diversity in the workplace.

Randstad US just announced the results of a recent survey on the perceptions and experiences of women and men as they relate to gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

According to the survey, a majority of employees (78 percent) say a workplace where people are treated equally–regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race or religion–is important to them. However, more than half of companies are not meeting this expectation, as 56 percent of female workers and 52 percent of male workers believe their employers could do more to promote gender equality and diversity.

“The gap between how women and men are represented and treated in the workplace is substantial right now, but what many employers do not realize is the underlying factors–like the rise of automation–will only widen the divide. In fact, there is a misconception that women will not be impacted by technology as much as men, but that’s simply not true,” said Audra Jenkins, chief diversity and inclusion officer, Randstad North America. “In addition to the myriad factors impacting gender inequality, 57 percent of jobs currently filled by women will be at risk from technology between now and 2026, according to the World Economic Forum.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the technology field, Reuters reports that women at Microsoft Corp. working in U.S.-based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016. Out of 118 gender-discrimination complaints filed by women at the tech giant, though, only one was deemed “founded” by the company, according to recently unsealed court filings based on a lawsuit against Microsoft by a group of women who accuse the company of unfair pay practices, among other things.

Attorneys for the women suing Microsoft described the number of complaints as “shocking” in the court filings, and said the response by Microsoft’s investigations team was “lackluster.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Microsoft said it had a robust system to investigate concerns raised by its employees, and that it wanted them to speak up. Microsoft also budgets more than $55 million a year to promote diversity and inclusion, it said in court filings.

“Diversity and inclusion are critically important to Microsoft,” said a company spokesperson. “We want employees to speak up if they have concerns and we strive to make it easy for them to do so. We take all employee concerns seriously and have a fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary.”

But Reuters notes that “companies generally keep information about internal discrimination complaints private,” which makes it difficult to compare the number of complaints at Microsoft to those at its competitors. In its court filing, Microsoft had argued that the number of women’s HR complaints should be secret because publicizing the outcomes could deter employees from reporting future abuses.

A court-appointed official, however, found that scenario “far too remote a competitive or business harm” to justify keeping the information sealed.

Michael J. O'Brienhttp://
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.