Regardless of the progress that has been made over the years concerning gender equality in the workplace, most studies on the topic show that businesses and organizations still have a long way to go. According to a recent survey performed by the Pew Research Center, 42% of women in the United States claim that they have experienced some type of gender discrimination in the workplace, which can be an issue throughout the entire employment process, from the job interview to the exit interview or retirement.
The most common examples of gender discrimination in today’s workplace include failure to promote, unfair treatment, pregnancy discrimination, and receiving less support based on one’s gender – all of which are illegal and offensive, much like any other type of discrimination, based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or age.
Steps to Prevent Gender Discrimination in Your Organization
The most effective way to keep your employees motivated to learn new things and grow with the organization is by making them feel safe and appreciated. A discrimination-free workplace is vital to achieving this goal. Here are a few steps organizations can take to ensure gender discrimination cannot and will not thrive in the workplace:
1. Enhance Transparency
Make the hiring and evaluation processes as transparent as possible by clearly identifying key milestones workers need to reach in order to qualify for senior-level positions. This is a great way to ensure your employees get promotions or pay raises solely based on their hard work and dedication.
2. Family-Friendly Insurance Plans
Build an honest, safe, and friendly environment for all parents, fathers included. Paid maternal leave as part of your family-friendly benefits package is great, but proper parental leave for both mothers and fathers is even better. Furthermore, covering your employees’ pregnancy-related health insurance is also a benefit that can make your organization very attractive to top talent.
3. Implement Training
Sensitivity training will help organizations avoid complications and gender-based harassment or violence, as well as the lawsuits that can stem from these issues. Additionally, it’s imperative for your team to feel comfortable voicing their concerns and coming to executive leadership when looking for a solution. This kind of trust that is built in your organization will empower employees to be better at cooperating, communication, and performing their everyday tasks.
4. Enforce Zero-Tolerance Policies
The most effective way to prevent potentially hostile work environments, and lawsuits, is to draw clear lines and identify what types of behaviors that won’t be tolerated, regardless of the scenario. However, even if your organization takes legitimate steps towards preventing gender discrimination, it only takes one such incident to tarnish an organizations reputation and possibly lead to a very expensive lawsuit.
Insurance as Protection
Should your employees feel discriminated against and decide to bring a lawsuit, the legal expenses and reputational damage can be severe. Having the proper risk management program in place is critical in protecting against these possible expenses and damages, while business insurance allows the organization to transfer the financial stress and damage to a third party, the insurer. Having insurance that covers the financial aspect of such an undesirable situation allows your organization to deal with these types of allegations in a proper manner, with full attention for the employee’s dignity and safety.
In the event of a gender discrimination claim, the insurance policies that typically respond to these types of incidents would be either Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), or Directors and Officers Insurance (D&O). EPLI will respond to any employment claim, such as wrongful termination, failure to promote, or harassment based on an employee’s gender. The policy can cover both the legal costs to defend as well as settlements reached, or any fines imposed.
However, it’s not just the organization that is at risk for claims regarding gender discrimination. If employees who allege gender discrimination are not content with the way executive management responded to them, they make look to sue the organization’s officers personally. In such cases, EPLI will not protect the executives and board members of your organization. Having a D&O policy in place will help protect the personal assets of directors and officers and pay for both defense costs and damages that arise from such claims.
Where to Go from Here
The team at Hawley and Associates has a niche understanding on how to protect nonprofit and social service organizations from gender discrimination claims and other employment-related incidents. Our team will work alongside you to obtain the right coverage at the right price. Contact us to learn how we can better support your mission.