When we dive into the details on the fight for gender equality, we tend to focus our attention on the large corporations — the giants in the business world.
While it is incredibly important to make sure that the biggest influencers in the market are progressive and tackling the on-going problem of gender equality, we cannot ignore the influence of small and medium enterprises (SME’s).
A whopping 40 per cent of the workforce is made up of SME’s, and this large chunk of the workforce is not being focused on.
This often comes down to two key misconceptions:
- We have a predisposition to think ‘the larger the corporation, the more influence it has to drive change’, which is actually not always the case.
- A lot of SME’s don’t have HR, who can be perceived to own the gender equality agenda – also not the case!
In a recent article in Smart Company, Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris shared her view on SME’s responsibility to do more for gender equality: “while big corporates have the resources to do the heavy lifting on workplace equality, SMEs have a role to play in moving the needle.”
As individuals, SME’s may not be large with influence or resource, but as a collective, they hold 40 per cent of the workforce. Now to me, that is a large enough stake to be deemed as ‘influential’.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s annual report on the Australian state of play in gender equality has recently been released, however under theWorkplace Gender Equality Act 2012, only businesses of 100+ employees have to report.
While this report is vital to requiring transparency in big business reporting and builds the momentum for change, it doesn’t tell the story of what’s happening for 40 per cent of Australia’s workforce.
A Human Agency’s CEO, Katriina Tahka, believes that the potential impact of SME’s shouldn’t be discounted. In fact, SME’s have an opportunity to role-model gender equality.
“Female Entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing business sectors and market influencers. Big businesses are missing out on the opportunity to attract and retain female talent when they leave to start up their own business, as well as the revenue from female customers if they fail to understand the impact of women’s decision making on spending. We’re really proud to have recently become a member of Femeconomy. Eligibility requires businesses to be at least 50% female owned and we encourage supporting each other in procurement decisions. The size of a workplace does not determine the influence, there’s a David (or Donna?!) and Goliath situation unfolding in gender equality!”.
Regardless of the size of your business, the top 3 things that will make a difference are:
- Cultivating a workplace culture that is inclusive of everyone;
- Allowing and encouraging both men and women to vary their work patterns, especially in the years that they have caring responsibilities;
- Encouraging women’s development and career progression via targeted opportunities such as sponsorship, which we know makes a big difference to advancing female careers.
A Human agency understands that SME’s do not always have the resources to generate this type of change, which is why we work alongside SME’s to create influential powerhouses.
Our HR team is your HR Partner, so get in touch, and let’s reimagine your workplace.
P: 02 9042 1406