Can a 4 day week improve workplace gender equality?

Gender equality in the workplace continues to be of major importance and its prominence is expected to grow as a result of Gen Z joining the workforce. The business community has long wrestled with how best to bridge the gender divide, with some results. But is there a silver bullet that can substantially boost gender equality? We think so. Enter – the 4 day week.

Read on to discover what workplace gender equality is and the forms that workplace discrimination toward women takes. We look at how the 4 day working week is driving a much-needed change. Let’s get into it.

What Is Workplace Gender Equality?

The consensus is that workplace gender equality is achieved when men and women have equal opportunities at their place of work. It doesn’t necessarily refer to equal outcomes, which are hard to control and may differ between the sexes. Instead it focuses on the opportunities available. The general principle is that no one should be overlooked, held back, or rejected for a role based on their gender identity.

The gender pay gap is present in many companies large and small. Its existence means that equality cannot be obtained for lots of women. For a business to be considered fair it must provide equal pay for equal work, offer leadership roles to all, and eradicate gender discrimination. The 4 day week can support gender equality in relation to family and caring responsibilities—which still, predominantly, fall on women.

How The 4 Day Week Drives Equality in the Workplace

The 4 day working week can undo some gender divides in the workplace. Through this small commitment, companies can achieve better gender equality, which will make them more attractive to job seekers. In turn this creates a happier workplace. The gender pay gap expands dramatically after women have children and many can expect to never again recover full pay. It’s often called a ‘Mum penalty’ because new Mums suffer harsher career falters compared to Dads as a result of having children.

With four in every five women having at least one child, it’s clear to see how gender inequality develops in the workplace. Fortunately, one of the benefits of the 4 day week is the reversing of that unfortunate trend. With that one extra free day per week, women can spend time with their children without having to take time off work. This means that they will remain in line with male colleagues and not suffer the professional consequences of starting a family.

It’s also worth noting that fathers too will have an extra free day each week to look after their children, which—as well as reducing childcare costs—better balances the gender divide. Outside of children, women are also more likely to be primary caregivers to older relatives than their male counterparts – an issue the 4 day working week address by providing additional time to carry out caring duties. Women also have weaker pensions resulting from their childrearing years. This is addressed by the 4 day working week. All things considered, a 4 day working week reduces gender inequality across the board compared to the current, outdated working model.