The relationship between gender equality activity in organizations and employee perceptions of equality

Arney Einarsdóttir, Katrín Ólafsdóttir, Laura Nesaule


A persistent unexplained gender wage gap exists in Iceland and women are still in a minority as directors, chairs of boards and board members within organizations. Organizations are required by law to have a gender equality statement, but in addition they may be taking various proactive actions towards equality. However, little knowledge exists on whether these actions lead to more positive perceptions of equality amongst employees. The main objective of this study is therefore to study the relationship between organizational gender equality activity (existence of a gender equality statement and Organizational Equality Maturity (OEM)) and employee perceptions of equality, as well as to explore whether minimum legally required actions and OEM have a positive influence on employees in the workplace.
This is the first study in Iceland to evaluate organizational equality activity against employees’ perceptions of equality. The study was executed at two levels and is time-lagged, first among 35 HRM managers and then a few months later among 1041 employees in the same 35 organizations. The results show that when organizations reach higher Organizational Equality Maturity, employee perceptions of gender equality in the workplace are positively influenced. The influence is primarily on employee perceptions of top management and on hiring and promotional activities. The results contribute towards a better understanding of how gender equality activity in organizations affects employees, which has practical implications for management and HRM practitioners.


Gender equality; gender equality statement (jafnréttisáætlun); Organizational Equality Maturity; employee perceptions of equality.


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M12; M14; M51; J16



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Útgefendur eru Viðskiptadeild Háskólans á Bifröst, Viðskiptafræðideild og Hagfræðideild Háskóla Íslands, Viðskiptafræðideild Háskólans í Reykjavík og Seðlabanki Íslands.

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