Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Over time, women have changed the discussion about their place in the workforce, bringing to light obstacles they face in male-dominated industries. While women are slowly gaining traction in the workplace, they remain underrepresented at every level. An important business strategy is to have an inclusive workplace where women are supported and empowered. Changing cultures in the workplace is a process – here are a few ways to create true gender diversity within your organization.
Female Friendly Policies
Women, if and when they choose to have children, will at times move into motherhood in lieu of their careers. This can hinder their career trajectory and disadvantage them in the workplace. Help to support women by advocating for flexible schedules as they return from maternity leave by offering part-time, remote, or hybrid options. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that working mothers like the flexibility of balancing their career goals with their responsibilities at home. In fact, inflexible work schedules are driving women with young children out of the workforce.
As women prepare to become mothers, health protection in the workplace should be provided for pregnant and nursing employees. This includes time off for medical appointments, physical accommodations within the workplace, and prevention and protection measures. It also encompasses providing support to employees who are breastfeeding, allowing them time off to feed or pump and an appropriate space to do so. No – bathrooms don’t count!
Equal Opportunities for Women
A major influence in a woman’s ability to grow is the opportunities that are presented at work. However, it has been suggested that women, particularly those who have children, are often not provided the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Empower your female coworkers by introducing them to the people who can help them access the resources and knowledge they need to grow and improve. Mentoring is an effective and increasingly popular way for companies to empower women by championing their accomplishments at every level of their career.
Supporting women at your company should happen at every level. Don’t shy away from diversifying leadership by promoting women to management and executive positions. It is important to encourage women to pursue careers at all levels of work, especially in male-dominated fields. Creating an inclusive team of leaders shows that while it is important to equally encourage men and women, women are valuable to the overall structure within your company.
Shrink the Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap held steady in 2020, with women earning 84% of what men earned. It is a stubborn and persistent problem, but can be thwarted by employers who aren’t afraid to disclose employee wages and compensation plans. Showing support for transparency in pay gives women better tools to address pay discrimination and the confidence to negotiate. Women who trust their employers and see transparency around pay can seek comfort in the fact that they are not being paid less than their colleagues in the same role purely because of their gender.
Prevent Gender-Based Harassment
Yet another obstacle for the advancement of women in the workplace is that sexual assault and harassment persist throughout American institutions. Despite sexual harassment policies in the workplace, one study found that 34% of female employees say they have been sexually harassed by a colleague. Sexual harassment in the workplace can be a serious incident of sexual assault, but it can also be a less obvious such as sexual comments or jokes about a colleague.
Be sure to reinforce a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based harassment and violence, take complaints seriously, and follow through with discipline when necessary. Provide training to your employers to send a powerful signal about the importance of appropriate behaviors in the workplace.
The American workforce still has a long path ahead to fully empower women, especially women of color, within the industry. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Empowering women will empower your workplace, and a culture of equality for generations to come.
We want to chat with you about how your organization can implement innovative new workforce management solutions that empowers female employees. Send us an email today.