How Gender and Diversity Impact Employee Stock Option Participation


Employee stock options are a popular form of compensation for modern businesses and startups, allowing employees to purchase company shares at a set price within a specific time frame. However, not all employees take advantage of this option equally, and research has shown that gender and diversity have an impact on participation rates. In this article, we will explore how gender and diversity impact employee stock option participation.

  1. Gender Disparities in Stock Option Participation:

Research has found that women are less likely to participate in employee stock option programs than men. One reason for this gender disparity is that women are historically underpaid compared to their male peers, making stock options less of a priority for them. Additionally, women are underrepresented in high-level positions and leadership roles, where stock options are more commonly granted, limiting their access to these programs.

  1. Diversity and Inclusion:

Diversity and inclusion are essential components of any modern workplace, but they can also impact employee stock option participation. A lack of diversity can lead to a homogenous culture where stock options are only offered to a select group of employees, perpetuating inequality. In contrast, a workplace that values diversity and inclusion can offer opportunities to a wider range of employees, increasing participation rates.

  1. Unconscious Bias:

Unconscious bias can also impact stock option participation. For example, managers may unconsciously favor employees who are similar to themselves when deciding who to grant stock options to, perpetuating existing gender and diversity disparities. By becoming aware of these unconscious biases, managers can make more equitable decisions and increase participation rates among all employees.

  1. Solutions:

To address gender and diversity disparities in stock option participation, companies can take a variety of steps. First, they can ensure that their compensation packages are equitable and transparent, with stock options offered to all employees regardless of gender or background. Additionally, they can prioritize diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices and leadership development programs, ensuring that a wide range of employees are eligible for stock options. Finally, they can implement unconscious bias training for managers to help them make more equitable decisions.


Employee stock options can be a valuable form of compensation, but gender and diversity disparities can limit access for some employees. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, addressing unconscious bias, and offering stock options equitably, companies can increase participation rates and create a more equitable workplace for all employees.