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Analysing Gender Equality Practices In Organisations

Executive Summary

This report discusses the theory and practice of gender in organisations. It discusses the main approach to which gender inequality is reproduced and implicated in the workplace, i.e. the ideology of separate spaces and ideal workers. The ideal worker belief shows an employee fully committed to the work and organisation with no demands.

The chosen organisation for this report is AstraZeneca, which includes its practices regarding gender equity measuring its performance concerning gender equality, including analysing the organisation’s policies. This report includes AstraZeneca’s aim to create an inclusive workforce and workplace that reflects communities in which they help people by providing a diversity of ideas, using cultural understanding and importantly, creating an environment where people feel valued. AstraZeneca performs well in gender equality, as the global senior leaders were women. The organisation remains dedicated to demonstrating gender equality through equal pay across its workforce. AstraZeneca also performs well in gender equality due to a higher promotion rate for women.

Further, this report includes AstraZeneca acknowledges that gender is a fundamental social determinant of health. It focused on increasing the presence of women across their leadership teams and represented 50% of women and men in their workforce. Finally, the recommendations for gender policy and practice include male managers being involved in a workshop that aims to promote awareness for women’s wellbeing, incorporating social dialogue, giving women the opportunity to act as leaders, and creating a platform, “She Owns It,” to appreciate and acknowledge them and their contributions.

Introduction

This report discusses the gender practice in organisations. It defines how conditions that reproduce existing gender arrangements may be developed in work organisations. It discusses how persistent are gender inequality and gender-based advantage in organisations. It elucidates how cultural images of gender are widely disseminated through organisations and discusses income and status inequity being partly created through organisational processes. This report explains how masculinity and occupational gender segregation are largely the product of organisational processes. It explains the effectiveness of equal opportunity and diversity management policies. The report highlights AstraZeneca’s practices of gender equity measuring its performance concerning gender equality, including analysing the organisation’s policies. Lastly, it includes recommendations on how AstraZeneca can improve its gender practices for creating a better and more inclusive workplace.

Organisations can be considered gendered (Acker 1990, 1992). Gender can be interpreted as embedded in organisational relations, forms, and relations (Halford et al., 1997). Therefore, the development of organisation and gender may be perceived as combined (Acker 1990, 1992).


Discussion

Gender in organisations theory and practice

According to gender scholars like Acker and Halford, gender is performed and created in a continuous process that depends on social control practices and socialisation that benefit men and a drawback for women. Many organisations are involved in this process. According to International Labour Organisation (2020), gender diversity is indicative of the ability to better gauge consumer interest and demand (37.9%), enhanced company reputation (57.8%), innovation and openness (59. %), an increase in retention and recruitment (59.7%), and higher productivity and profits (62.%). Furthermore, when workers feel valued equally, they are more likely to feel safe contributing and remaining with the organisation. For example, a condition that reproduces current gender practices include AstraZeneca promoting equal pay for both genders. The ILO (2020) mentions that equal pay benefits organisations attract talents and encounter an increased retention rate of female workers.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS, 2021), the gender pay gap decreased to 7.4% amid full-time workers and 15.5% amid all workers in 2020 (see Appendix 1). Surveys of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) show that the COVID-19 pandemic factors did not affect the gender pay gap in 2020 (ONS, 2021). Another example is Fujitsu, Ireland, and the UK branch has a holistic approach to handling the gender pay gap and encouraging gender equality. This includes gender pay gap reporting and analysis. Fujitsu supports the childcare needs of its workforce and strives for a better work-family balance. The organisation has increased the number of women in leadership roles and reached a better gender balance in the talent pipeline (ILO, 2020). Another condition that reproduces current gender practices includes supporting women in management and business. According to ILO (2020), accomplishing women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in management and business entails enhancing the gender balance at every level of organisational leadership and raising the numbers of female entrepreneurs and business owners. Italy, Germany, and France have the best women representing on boards. In addition, several G7 countries have developed a quota system that represents women on organisation boards (Appendix 2).

Empowering women in the workforce means allowing them to thrive as entrepreneurs and investors (ILO, 2020). For example, Deutsche Post DHL Group leads a mind-set and culture of gender equality and offers flexible working practices supporting women’s careers. In addition, the organisation arranges high-profile events and training courses to promote women’s leadership and diversity and gender-sensitive talent management systems to provide women employees with family duties without penalising them. Another example is Intesa Sanpaolo, which developed a “Business Gemma programme” to offer tailored loans to self-employed women and manage or own a business. In addition, the programme has an insurance policy covering aspects like maternity and health and allows legal protection in challenging times in the private life of businesswomen (ILO, 2020).

According to Stamarski and Son Hing (2015), organisations have been inhospitable places for women because of various types of gender inequalities. For example, the longer time entailed for females than males to improve professionally, lack of female leadership, and workplace discrimination negatively impact female opportunities and earnings. Dahl and Krog (2018) add that workplace discrimination leads to women entering the lower socio-economic position. Such discrimination can be attributed to human resources decision-making and policies. Moreover, when female employees engage with organisational decision-makers, they may encounter personal discrimination, i.e. sexist comments.

Culture’s role is immense and is directly related to gender, according to the cultural theory of gender named as Gender schema theory, which Sandra Bem introduced in 1981, stated regarding the role of culture associated with gender (Starr and Zurbriggen, 2017). Therefore, individuals usually learn it related to the roles of males and females in an organisation with the help of their culture. More precisely, culture used to influence both men and women thinking and cognitive ability (Wong et al., 2018).

For example, if a person has grown in a dominant male Society, his behaviour and attitude can reflect his culture and role in an organisation. Moreover, in the contemporary and digitalised world, most organisations are still working on the gender-segregated job. Therefore, due to cultural images of gender in organisations, women lag behind men in different aspects. For example, Bagilhole (2017) found that women is considered to have less pay and authority in an organisation compared to men. However, five main processes can be widely disseminated in organisations to reproduce gender. In contrast, it is culturally considered taboo to encourage networking activities among women and minorities men in organisational events. Therefore, ways for women must be created to enhance their careers in different organisations as it plays a significant role in success.

Eriksen et al. (2021) states that inequity and an unfair environment has been partly created with the help of organisational processes. Income inequity and unfairness have been mainly related to women. However, income and status inequity has been prevailing in companies for decades in both developed and developing countries. On the other hand, from income inequity, it is considered an uneven distribution throughout a population. Therefore, the top 10% of employees in the company earn 50% of the organisation’s total income (Teng and Kassim, 2018).

Moreover, lower-level employees have little to no status rights in organisations. Organisations treat their employees differently depending upon their status. Differences can emerge from class-based, race, ethnic background and gender (Silver, 2020). For example, companies used to give facilities to white and the majority; on the other hand, Asian, African, Black, and Hispanic employees usually faced status inequity in organisations. It is a global phenomenon that can be mitigated with the help of good organisational processes.

Gender identity, particularly masculinity, is the product of organisational processes. For instance, individuals in hostile sexism perceive women as a threat to a man’s position, so they act as gatekeepers refusing women’s access to more masculine or prestigious roles. According to Stamarski and Son Hing (2015), hostile sexism includes negative stereotypes and antipathy related to women, like women are sexually manipulative, overly emotional, and incompetent. Hostile sexism is related to beliefs that women must be less powerful than men must, and women may try to take power from men.

On the other hand, benevolent sexism includes overall positive perceptions regarding women, as long as they have traditionally feminine jobs. People with benevolently sexist beliefs classify women as weak and needing adoration, support and protection. Most significantly, benevolent and hostile sexism go hand-in-hand due to ambivalent sexists. This means that individuals high in hostile and benevolent sexism believe that women are weaker than men are and should work in limited domestic jobs.

According to Acker (1990), occupational gender segregation is partly created through organisational practices. This relates to divisions of labour, power, locations in physical space, and allowed behaviours, including the institutionalised means of maintaining the segregation in the structures of the state, family, and labour markets. Acker (1990) add that such segregation in organisations is well reported and evident. Even though there are high differences in the trends and degree of gender segregation, men are at the highest roles of organisational power. Managers’ decisions usually start gender segregation, and organisational practices preserve them.

In terms of equal opportunity and diversity management policies, all workers are responsible for directly handling, reporting or challenging discriminatory behaviour, bullying, harassment, or unfair treatment in the workplace. All organisations must comply with the Equality Act 2010, as appropriate and following current good practice. These policies are effective because organisations must perform an equality analysis to evaluate the impacts of all policies related to employment. According to the Home Office (2017), all employees should be accountable and engaged with diversity and inclusion agenda to create real progress. Organisations are responsible for promoting an environment where all employees, regardless of gender, are involved and comfortable.

Organisations must allow women to communicate and thrive on parity with men for creating a more diverse and stringer pipeline to represent gender equality. The Home Office (2017) also suggests that organisations must engrave a work-life balance and flexibility into their work culture for both women and men. The managers must understand the barriers to female progression and establish events/programmes to identify these. These policies are effective as the Insolvency Service delivered its diversity and equality strategy, placing managers responsible for ensuring all employees acquire formal equality and diversity training. The Service examines all concerns regarding inappropriate behaviour, harassment, and discrimination in organisations. The Service ensures that all organisations are consistently and fairly implemented in all organisations’ appointment and selection processes, disciplinary and grievance processes, staff development opportunities, and performance management processes. 

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Company case study: analysis of gender policy and practice

AstraZeneca was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in the capital of the UK, London. AstraZeneca was developed through the merger of two organisations, i.e. “Astra AB of Sweden” and “Zeneca Group PLC of the UK”, with a common vision and similar science-based cultures of the pharmaceutical industry (AstraZeneca 2021a).

AstraZeneca aims at providing its strategic priorities sustainably, supporting long-term commercial success and scientific innovation. AstraZeneca focuses on the commercialisation, development, exploration of prescription medicines in Biopharmaceuticals and Oncology, including Immunology and Respiratory, Metabolism and Renal, and Cardiovascular. AstraZeneca sells products under Marcaine/Sensorcaine, Diprivan Citanest, Carbocaine, Merrem/Meronem, Losec, Entocort, Nexium, Onglyza, Crestor, and Atacand. The values of AstraZeneca includes how they work together and their integral behaviours to lead success (AstraZeneca 2021a).

In terms of gender equity, AstraZeneca has a culture of diversity and inclusion, as innovation entails breakthrough concepts that arise from a diverse workforce allowed to challenge modern thinking. All women and men work in environments where they feel empowered and safe (AstraZeneca, 2021b). 

AstraZeneca aims at creating an inclusive workforce and workplace reflecting communities in which they help people by providing a diversity of ideas, using cultural understanding and importantly, creating an environment where people feel valued. AstraZeneca values the differences as it identifies that a team becomes creative when it consists of people who think differently, thus creating an environment to provide opportunities to explore and create. This is how AstraZeneca fosters innovation, constant growth and learning (AstraZeneca, 2021b).

Moreover, according to the gender pay report, AstraZeneca acknowledges that gender is a fundamental social determinant of health and has a Young Health Programme (YHP) that takes a gendered approach. The YHP recognises that boys and girls have various levels of vulnerability and exposure to non-communicable disease risk factors. As a result, 57% of young people reached due to the YHP are girls.

Further, AstraZeneca is performing well in terms of gender equality; for example, in 2020, 47% of the global senior leaders were women. AstraZeneca aims at reaching 50% by 2025. In the UK, AstraZeneca had 48% female and 52% male employees in 2020 (see Appendix 4) (AstraZeneca, 2020). AstraZeneca performs well concerning gender equality due to the improved gender pay gap since 2020, as AstraZeneca saw a higher number of women in senior roles. It progressed with closing the gender pay gap for new employees and recruiting more women than men. AstraZeneca remained dedicated to demonstrating gender equality through equal pay across its workforce. According to the gender pay report, AstraZeneca also performs well in gender equality because of the upper quartiles, consequently leading to a higher promotion rate for women (AstraZeneca, 2020). Nonetheless, the gap is led by the higher part of men than women in senior roles in MedImmune Cambridge that requires restructuring of its research and development and an increased part of women who work part-time (see Appendix 3).

According to the gender pay report, in 2020, AstraZeneca focused on increasing the presence of women across their leadership teams. The progress was supported by several initiatives, like the “Women as Leaders programme” for improving the next generation of female leaders, “Empowerment programme” for introducing aspiring or new female leaders, and a “Network for Women” group developed for female employees across our UK to nurture a pipeline of potential female leaders, act as mentees and mentors, and create connections. The “Women as Leaders programme” has been running for seven years.

Over three years on average, women who participate in the programme are twice as likely to be promoted as those who do not participate in the programme. In 2020, AstraZeneca represented 50% of women and men in their workforce and aimed for the same at management levels (AstraZeneca, 2021b). For example, AstraZeneca has policies to create and sustain diverse leadership and talent development. AstraZeneca aims to create, attract, and retain diverse talent reflecting and serving the patients and communities. Its diverse workforce allows the organisation to understand demographics, relate to them, and implement approaches. AstraZeneca encourages decision-making at an adequate level. AstraZeneca maintains a safe environment and inclusive leadership for everyone at every career level.

According to ILO (2020), gender equality cuts across the Decent Work’s four elements, i.e. promoting social dialogue, extending social protection, guaranteeing rights at work, and promoting organisations and jobs. Gender equality identifies that women and men should have equal opportunities, responsibilities, and work rights that allow for creativity and fulfilment, respect human rights, guarantee fundamental security in adversity, and ensure an appropriate living standard for themselves and their families. According to the gender pay report, AstraZeneca plays a significant part in promoting women to participate and succeed in “science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)”. AstraZeneca supports initiatives to encourage women in STEM through involvement with the local colleges and schools to ensure that they are inspiring and cultivating talent for the future (AstraZeneca, 2020). This is an effective practice, as it would eliminate gender discrimination and create equal opportunities for women to come forward and take part in leading roles.

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Recommendations for gender policy and practice

The significance of gender diversity stresses women. However, according to Madsen et al. (2020), men also have an important part as allies and “co-drivers” for women. Thus, males must improve the gender policy and practice for women. For example, AstraZeneca’s male managers can be involved in a workshop that aims to promote awareness of the significance of women’s work-life balance, wellbeing, and self-care. In addition, they can create an empathetic communication workshop focusing on decreasing the natural unconscious bias restricting men from demonstrating adequate support for their female employees. This is vital as the Centre for Women, and Business (2017) mentions that women cannot be fully engaged without men because most senior leaders today are still men and are in the leading role to impact organisational and cultural change.

Moreover, AstraZeneca must create a workplace attractive to people with diverse social identities and women before developing certain recruitment actions, outreach programmes, or other actions to attract talent. For this purpose, social dialogue is vital. According to ILO (2020), social dialogue can involve collective bargaining agreements leading to a culture of equality, diversity, and respect in an organisation. Therefore, AstraZeneca must dialogue and consult their employees to recognise their needs and respond to them. Furthermore, AstraZeneca should account for employees’ needs and managers’ duties according to the standards set by the ILO, the Equality Act 2010, and Human Rights Act 1998. This can help ensure that both managers and employees encourage accountability and transparency in their existing and future activities on gender equality at AstraZeneca.  Social dialogue can also allow AstraZeneca to recognise inequalities related to gender and develop a truly gender-equal environment that positively affects society.

Further, AstraZeneca must create specific leadership roles for women only. This will allow women to perform well and come forward with their ideas and plans to implement in the organisation, be it for the business or gender practices. AstraZeneca’s managers should allow women to act as a leader for one week to expose them to organisational practices relating to management, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. This approach will gain confidence and self-esteem in women promoting diversity and creating a safer workplace. In addition, managers can evaluate their performance and provide constructive feedback so that they can improve and prepare themselves for future leadership roles. Most importantly, AstraZeneca should honour their female employees by developing a “She Owns It” platform to appreciate and acknowledge them and their contributions. AstraZeneca must take care of men and women, have appropriate flexibility policies, safety, health, freedom from violence policies, and career development and work-life balance policies to promote an encouraging and better working environment.

Conclusion

This report aims to discuss the practice of gender in organisations. Gender is performed and created in a continuous process that depends on social control practices and socialisation that benefit men and a drawback for women. The two conditions that reproduce current gender practices include promoting equal pay for both genders and supporting women in management and business. This report concludes that many organisations have been inhospitable places for women because of gender inequalities. Workplace discrimination leads to women entering the lower socio-economic position. The role of culture is immense and is directly related to gender. Culture used to influence both men and women thinking and cognitive ability.

Contemporary and digitalised world, most organisations are still working on gender-segregated jobs. It is culturally considered taboo to encourage networking activities in organisational events among women and minorities men. The report concludes that individuals in hostile sexism perceive women as a threat to a man’s position. Hence, they act as gatekeepers refusing women’s access to more masculine or prestigious roles. AstraZeneca has a culture of diversity and inclusion, as innovation entails breakthrough concepts that arise from a diverse workforce that challenge modern thinking. AstraZeneca acknowledges that gender is a fundamental social determinant of health. Therefore, it focused on increasing the presence of women across their leadership teams and represented 50% of women and men in their workforce. This report includes recommendations for gender policy and practice. For example, male managers can be involved in a workshop that aims to promote awareness for women’s wellbeing, social dialogue, give women the opportunity to act as leaders, and create a platform, “She Owns It,” to appreciate and acknowledge them and their contributions.


References

Acker, J., 1990. Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organisations. Gender & Society, 4(2), pp.139-158.

Acker, J., 1992. Gendering Organizational Theory. I Mills, Albert & Tancred, Peta (eds) Gendering Organizational Analysis.

AstraZeneca 2021a. Our company. Available at: https://www.astrazeneca.com/our-company.html

AstraZeneca, 2020. AstraZeneca Gender Pay Report. Available at: Astrazeneca.com. Available at: https://www.astrazeneca.com/content/dam/az-uk/AstraZeneca_2020_GPGR_2020-12-21.pdf

AstraZeneca, 2021b. Inclusion and diversity. Available at: https://www.astrazeneca.com/sustainability/ethics-and-transparency/inclusion-and-diversity.html#!

Bagilhole, B., 2017. Being different is a very difficult row to hoe: Survival strategies of women academics. In Changing the Subject (pp. 15-28). Taylor & Francis.

Centre for Women and Business, 2017. Men as Allies: Engaging Men to Advance Women in the Workplace. Available at: https://wit.abcd.harvard.edu/files/wit/files/cwb_men_as_allies_research_report_spring_2017.pdf

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Halford, S.J., 1997. Gender, careers and organisations: current developments in banking, nursing and local government. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Home Office, 2017. Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018 - 2025 Inclusive by Instinct. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/739538/Diversity_and_Inclusion_strategy_SCREEN.pdf

Madsen, S.R., Townsend, A. and Scribner, R.T., 2020. Strategies that male allies use to advance women in the workplace. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 28(3), pp.239-259.

Office of National Statistics, 2021. Gender pay gap in the UK: 2020. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2020

Silver, B.R., 2020, December. Inequality in the Extracurriculum: How Class, Race, and Gender Shape College Involvement 1. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 1290-1314).

Stamarski, C.S. and Son Hing, L.S., 2015. Gender inequalities in the workplace: the effects of organisational structures, processes, practices, and decision makers’ sexism. Frontiers in psychology, 6, p.1400.

Starr, C.R. and Zurbriggen, E.L., 2017. Sandra Bem’s gender schema theory after 34 years: A review of its reach and impact. Sex Roles, 76(9), pp.566-578.

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Wong, E.C., Collins, R.L., Cerully, J.L., Jennifer, W.Y. and Seelam, R., 2018. Effects of contact-based mental illness stigma reduction programs: age, gender, and Asian, Latino, and White American differences. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 53(3), pp.299-308.

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