Today, we are witnessing an immense push for gender equality in the workplace. Everyone from leaders to organizations to employers are starting to realize the importance of diversity and its effects on the long-term success of companies.

Here in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is leading the way in gender equality. Through its various initiatives, such as the recent announcement of the equal pay law for men and women, the UAE is paving the way for organizations to push the gender agenda in the workplace.

While countries across the world are placing heavy emphasis on diversity, it is important organizations are also part of this change and seize the opportunity and invest time and effort to help close the gender gap internally. But how can companies do this?

Over the years, we have seen technology and analytics becoming one of the key drivers in organizations in accelerating the advancement of women. Using deep insights to identify issues and fix gaps, versus applying ‘quick fixes’ can help make meaningful progress in the organization.

By leveraging their own workforce data and advanced analytics, organizations can identify career accelerators and gaps in pay. Furthermore, with the impact of technology on jobs, analytics can help ‘re-calculate’ career pathways so that talent can be optimally redeployed.

For example, statistical modeling can be applied to workforce data to help capture insights into the factors that work against the upward progression of women. Through such measures, vast amounts of data provided by the organization can be combined with our algorithms to determine gaps in processes or biases in performance management systems.

Equipped with these insights, companies can then take swift action by identifying where to focus potential solutions. Furthermore, by being able to monitor and measure progress over a certain period of time, organizations can justify the impact of their investment.

Unconscious bias is one of the top factors holding women back from progressing in the workplace and hindering their potential to contribute. Without realizing, automatic associations pegged to gender and gender stereotypes find their way into decision-making.

With the help of big data, organizations can take steps to counteract gender biases that affect the promotion of women. Analytics can be used to test for biases in their processes and by uncovering patterns, they can then set up robust processes in place that can mitigate this in the future.

Data can be applied in many ways as a tool to help close the gender gap. Diversity metrics related to recruitment, pay, training and progression can give valuable insights into patterns and trends between the female employee and her male counterparts.

These insights have enabled organizations to reevaluate and make changes to their talent development programs and performance management systems.

Several organizations are realizing the importance of taking the analytical approach to decomposing barriers that block the progress of women in the workplace.

However, organizations are sometimes not confident enough about their data. The most important thing is to work with what’s already available. This will provide a starting point to help understand the issues and gaps unique to the organization and formulate a plan for the future.

Countries like the UAE are doing their part in enacting change and laying the foundations for gender progression, from closing the pay gap to increasing representation in senior leadership. Organizations also need to be part of this change and leverage the opportunity and accelerate the advancement of women internally by adopting an innovative approach. Investments in big data and cutting-edge analytics can help push the gender agenda in the workplace and in turn make a significant impact on the business.

Driving change in the organization takes commitment and time. But identifying the right accelerators can really help move the needle much faster and create significant value through growth, innovation, employee engagement and retention.

Mustafa Faizani is the Chief Executive Officer, UAE and IMETA of Mercer