Three things we’ve learned about engaging everyone on equality – Formative Content

Three things we’ve learned about engaging everyone on equality

International Women’s Day gives us all a chance to reflect on another 12 months in our workplaces: what we’ve been doing well and where we have scope for improvement. 

The theme of this year’s IWD is “embracing equity” to avoid creating division as you pursue equal opportunities. The shift to focus on equity, rather than equality, is defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful, but recognising this will likely differ from person to person.

For us at Formative Content, equity also means offering everyone across the business the chance to be involved in conversations about how to be fair, and bringing as many employees along with the discussions as possible.

Understanding the difference between equality and equity. Source: IWD

Closing the gender gap is a social and economic imperative, with multiple reports showing equity helps stimulate economic growth and bolster company performance.

So how can we best achieve full engagement in raising women up and ensuring equity? Here are three things we’ve learned along the way:

  • Invite everyone to your diversity events

Events about equality that are only for women exclude other key stakeholders, and won’t give the buy-in you need from across the company. Inviting everyone to your diversity events helps underscore the idea that men and women can work together to achieve equity and create greater opportunities for everyone, according to Dame Helena Morrissey, a British financier and campaigner for more female representation in business. 

  • Create room for everyone to speak during meetings 

It’s long been acknowledged that men speak more than women in meetings and sometimes even talk over them. What’s also true, according to the Harvard Business Review, is that people tend to associate abstract language with power and leadership, and that – in general – men speak more abstractly than women. Keeping these facts in mind and creating space for everyone to speak and be actively listened to, could help overcome these hurdles to equity.

  • Recognise some people may need more support or a confidence boost

Some women suffer from an “acute lack of confidence” compared to men, according to The Atlantic – something that’s also referred to as the confidence gap. Overcoming this – and making sure you’re being as inclusive as possible – can include changing basic language terms, for example, saying “people” rather than men and women, making sure tasks are distributed fairly and avoiding gendered team-building activities. Promoting gender inclusivity, making sure employees have visible female role models, and simply being aware of differences in how men and women might discuss matters like salary, can also help. 

These three learnings may seem simple, but simple changes can make all the difference – even just recognising the difference between equity and equality.

As we celebrate IWD at Formative Content – as a company founded and run by a woman, and with many female leaders and employees – we also recognise that equity is a complex topic and we’re still learning as we go.

Researchers continue to shine a spotlight on new areas. The move to remote working, for example, is changing the parameters, while our shifting work patterns and technological advances such as artificial intelligence mean the landscape is constantly evolving. What’s important is to keep talking, engaging and moving towards the core goal of equity for all.



Building a workforce that reflects society – Formative’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion

Why we’re choosing to publish our gender pay gap data


About the author: Emma Charlton is the Deputy Head of Editorial at Formative Content. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Emma Charlton - Deputy Head of Editorial
Author:Emma Charlton - Deputy Head of Editorial