With the light firmly on the existence of gender inequality, particularly in top tier jobs, employers are now under even more pressure to ensure that they promote an equal playing field between male and female staff.

Whilst the Government consultation regarding the gender pay gap has heightened the issue of inequality, the root of the issue lies in the way in which we naturally stereotype individuals. Be it a professional or social circle, we automatically stereotype people based on their appearance, mannerisms and body language. This “unconscious bias” we commonly have can be counter-productive in promoting equality in the workplace.

As part of their video training program, Facebook ran a simulation to see whether performance bias could lead to gender inequality. The study demonstrated how a performance bias that favoured men, even at 1 percent could impact the internal structure of an organisation. Starting at an equal 50/50 representation of both men in top tier roles, the results reflected a substantially different hierarchy with only 35 percent of the leading roles occupied by women. The result would appear to be a clear reflection of female board representation at the UK’s leading FTSE companies, despite women’s ability to perform to the same standard as men.

Managing “unconscious bias” is vital in creating a diverse working environment. Implementing these 3 simple changes will assist businesses in creating equality in the workplace:

1. Structured Recruitment

When recruiting for a position, whether internally or externally, the set criteria for the role used should relate directly to performance. “Likeability factor” is not an adequate reflection of a person’s professional performance. Where you find yourself describing an interviewee with this phrase return back to their achievements assessing their capability to effectively fulfil the role requirements.

2. Creating fair working practices

Recognising individuals for their contribution to a project or meeting is crucial in creating a working environment in which employees feel valued. Achievements can often be overlooked, with credit being given in the wrong place, or not all. Actively encourage feedback from employees, particularly those who do not tend to offer feedback. Formal reviews are also an effective way to track individual progression.

3. Promoting shared parental leave

Often the biggest challenge to performance and gender bias is the outdated assumption that motherhood means women are less committed to their professional goals than men. Businesses should consider whether it may assist them to promote shared parental leave. Certainly both men and women should equally be encouraged to take their parental leave entitlement.

Here at Farleys Solicitors our Employment Law & HR team can advise you across the full range of HR and employment law. For further information regarding equal pay and workplace equality call 0845 05 1958. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.