Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Essence of Embracing Equity in Pakistani Workplaces

Kashif Rajpoot, Head of People & Culture, Paymob Pakistan

Equity and Equality have become increasingly important in discussions about workplace diversity and inclusion. While the two are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Equality means providing everyone with similar opportunities, while equity means equipping everyone with access to the opportunities they need to be successful. In the workplace, equity involves acknowledging that since people have diverse backgrounds and needs, therefore it is imperative to establish a culture where everyone has a fair chance to succeed and thrive. This means ensuring that there is no discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, age, or disability.

It also means providing equal opportunities for professional growth and advancement, regardless of an employee’s background or personal circumstances. Achieving workplace equity requires deliberate efforts to identify and remove barriers to individual success whilst fostering an environment that values diversity and inclusion.

Pakistan may have made big strides in balancing its workforce ratio, but there is a dire need to make workplaces equitable, especially for women. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, Pakistan ranks 145 out of the 146 countries rated, just ahead of Afghanistan.  The future economic development of the country depends on fully harnessing the human capital potential of its young and growing population.

While many companies claim to support diversity and inclusion, it is not enough to simply pay lip service to these values. True equity promises a deeper commitment to addressing systemic barriers and promoting fairness for all employees.

For instance, the traditional 9 to 5 office routine, which was simply designed for a male-dominated workforce in the 1800s, is no longer suitable for women in the workplace. This clearly highlights the inequality of the 9-to-5 model for women in the modern-day setup. Instead, flexible hours, adaptable desks, and remote work setups are replacing the traditional work model to support the challenges they face on a daily basis. Women are often primary caregivers and experience burnout from balancing work/life responsibilities. Framing flexibility as a privilege for women perpetuates bias, and it should be accessible to all employees to promote equity and equality.

With the female labor force participation rate of around 25% in Pakistan, safety concerns, financial constraints, and resistance from family and communities continue to prevent many women from pursuing jobs outside the home. Women who work, continue to struggle with low wages, while burdened with household responsibilities and expenses.

Equity also accounts for a crucial part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims to create a more just and sustainable world. SDG 10 explicitly aims to reduce inequality within countries, highlighting the importance of equity in creating a better future. Equity is a principle that underpins many of the other SDGs, such as poverty reduction, hunger eradication, good health, quality education, and gender equality.

Equity is also a key part of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals that investors use to evaluate a company’s performance in the said areas. In this context, equity pertains to social equity, encompassing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the company. To fulfill ESG goals, companies must prioritize DEI initiatives to create a more diverse workforce, promote equitable hiring practices, and foster an inclusive workplace culture. Additionally, companies should address equity in their supply chains and business practices, ensuring fair labor laws and equal access to products and services for underserved communities.

At Paymob we believe in fostering a culture that lets our employees thrive and explore their full potential.  Our ambition is to create an environment that nurtures tolerance, understanding, and acceptance.  Our values include putting our people first, ensuring an inclusive workplace environment and providing employees a safe space that is free from discrimination and harassment. Investing in employees and ensuring everyone has equitable opportunities to succeed is fundamental to fostering an organization’s culture.

While there is no quick fix for achieving workplace equity, each of us has the power to drive change and promote gender equality. A successful workplace culture for all genders can be created by seeing employees as individuals and embracing differences. We must start considering what actions we can take to empower our workforce within and beyond the workplace.

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