One of the key aspects of the Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector project was deep collaboration with the private sector. Based on the insights resulting from this cooperation as well as our own extensive primary and secondary research, GCNC has developed a number of recommendations for the Government of Canada to continue to help advance gender equality in the private sector.
The Way Forward for Canada
- Continue to support business leadership. Our participating companies have expressed interest in remaining available for conversations with other organizations looking to advance gender equality in the workplace, and have emphasized the value of continuous collaboration, cooperation, and the sharing of good practices and lessons learned.
- Create resources to support organizations’ ability to make a unique case for gender equality that is relevant to their workplace. The business case, built on financial imperatives, is important, but since women comprise half the population, the moral arguments in support of equality should be just as significant.
- Proactively include representatives from the private sector in conversations about legislation and regulation to help establish processes that allow businesses to understand developments and be prepared for implementation of any resulting regulation or legislation.
- Encourage internal transparency and disclosure in individual companies as the first step to support the private sector’s successful transition into open disclosure on gender equality data.
- Provide support for creating small closed task force initiatives where companies can disclose and discuss quantitative and qualitative gender equality information with guidance from government, academia, industry associations, or expert organizations in a safe space to support further transparency.
- Encourage full, open disclosure by recognizing private sector organizations as bold leaders for voluntarily and publicly sharing data. Other organizations may be motivated to follow suit, especially since stakeholders respond favourably to transparency when it is not forced by external drivers and when information is accompanied by a plan of action.
- Incentivize and provide guidance on conducting a gender wage gap analysis to private sector companies that are not regulated by pay equity legislation. Encourage them to share results externally to motivate other organizations to follow their example.
- Increase government-supported practices to remove bias from recruitment, retention, and promotion processes in the private sector. For example, prohibit companies from asking about salary history during hiring or promotion to avoid perpetuating unfair wage gaps.
- Increase support for the implementation of flexible work arrangements through research, education, and sharing real success stories. For instance, government-supported guidance on how to conduct results-based performance evaluations can help organizations break down internal barriers to offering and using these arrangements.
- Proactively promote and circulate resources created for mandated or government-recommended actions. The private sector may find it challenging to identify whether or not government-produced resources exist, where to find them, and how to utilize them.
- Take inspiration from other jurisdictions to improve gender representation in advertising and marketing materials. Companies should be encouraged to showcase leadership by proactively addressing and preventing gender stereotypes that perpetuate societal inequality.
- Circulate and develop resources on health, safety, and wellbeing from gender-specific or intersectional perspectives for the private sector to raise awareness about the link between gender and physical or psychological health and safety, violence and harassment, mental health, and comfort and wellbeing at work – in office, on- and off-site, and in remote capacities.
- Enhance private sector alignment of practices and actions. A standardized certification could be a key method to ensure this alignment and accelerate progress.
- Create an intersectional framework such as GBA+ specifically aimed at the private sector to support the challenge of embedding an intersectional lens in corporate policies, programs, and initiatives.