How to Support Women in the Workplace
Happy Women's History Month! More than just one day, on March 8th, we should celebrate and support women across the world every day as we start businesses, raise families and reach our goals. But similar to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it's easy to put out marketing materials washed in shades of pink, give a shoutout to your mom yet still conduct business as usual in ways that affect opportunities for women. Even at visibly pro-women workplaces, be willing to do a deep dive on pervasive attitudes that can influence practices and procedures that do not allow women to thrive at their full potential.
1. Gender Wage Gap
Conduct analysis regularly, which could be annually, every three years, etc to see what women and men are getting paid who have comparable levels of experience and education. It is understandable that business costs are soaring, so saving anywhere, up to and including someone's salary, can be tempting. But effectively cheating someone out of a fair salary is getting more difficult to sustain. Job-seekers have more access to information online through sites like Glassdoor that report salary averages, as well as working conditions, to anyone who is looking for that kind of information. Set the trend by being upfront in the job description, reduce the onus on job applicants to negotiate, and your reputation as a fair compensator will pay its own dividends. 2. Stop Tolerating Sexism in All Its Forms
Yes, that includes male coworkers who "mean well" when they lean in for the long-lasting hug or the "innocent" pat on the small of a female colleague's back. No-tolerance policies for sexual harassment and assault need to be clearly defined, and even grey areas that depend on an individual's personal boundaries like certain jokes or physical touches need to be agreed upon and talked about openly so there's no pressure to stay quiet if someone feels uncomfortable or offended. While practices and culture can vary to some degree, a general rule of thumb is to avoid anything that belittles or minimizes someone based on their gender or sexual identity, period. 3. Create Opportunities for Women to Voice Their Opinion Regularly check in with your female employees, and conduct company-wide surveys on an annual basis. What do they need in terms of policies or practices to truly thrive in the workplace? Different women need different things, and creating a safe and open environment to voice feedback is the best way to evolve with the times. Take special considerations towards women of color, pregnant women, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities so they can feel like an asset and not a burden. Women tend to drop off in the workplace when they have children or become caretakers for adults in their lives, among many situations that women are disproportionately burdened with. Offer flex schedules and remote accommodations so they can be productive while being regarded as human beings. Supporting women in the workplace requires more than just a gesture or a shoutout once a year. Honor the women in your life by researching, advocating, and most importantly implementing the necessary changes to help women feel supported and included.
Ibis Valdes is a consultant on diversity, inclusion, empowerment, and leadership. She now helps clients to press pause and refresh their brand, culture, and productivity through DEI strategy. Schedule your free assessment today by clicking here. Connect with Ibis!