How to Create a Supportive Workplace for Women

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How to Create a Supportive Workplace for Women

Amazing Workplace discusses…

Improving women’s experience in the workplace and creating safe, supportive environments for female employees is an important element of Diversity and Inclusion. When executed purposefully, it leads to positive outcomes for all. 

As well as contributing towards promoting gender equality, closing the pay gap, and helping women progress in their careers, supporting women leads to more creativity, greater innovation, and better problem-solving.

Recent studies have shown that women in the workplace and gender diversity are also key for organizations’ bottom lines:

  • Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform companies with the lowest representation of women on boards.
  • Gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits compared to male-dominated teams.
  • Gender-diverse business units have higher average revenue than less diverse business units.

Here are six ways to create a supportive workplace for women:

Provide equal pay

It should be an outdated issue. However, the gender pay gap is still very much alive. As reported in 2022, women earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. This means a woman must work more than 14 months to earn what a man earned in 12 months. It is particularly difficult for women of color.  On average, black women earn 63 cents, and Latina women just 54 cents for every dollar earned by white women. 

Progressive organizations are focusing on pay equity because, to put it simply, it’s the right thing to do. Neither race nor gender should have any bearing on what someone earns but supporting women in the workplace by providing equal pay can also produce strong business outcomes. These include stronger branding, improved employee engagement and productivity, and increased retention. 

Let women speak – don’t ‘hepeat’

Creating a supportive workplace for women doesn’t end with paying them fairly. It means involving women in all aspects of business; Listening to their opinions, acknowledging their input, recognizing their achievements, and ensuring they are represented in the decision-making processes. This may sound like stating the obvious, but approximately four-in-ten working women in the United States say they have faced gender discrimination at work. Plus, female employees are roughly four times as likely as their male counterparts to say they have been treated as if they were not competent because of their gender.

As an employer, you need to set the standard and lead by example. Take action when you see men interrupting, undermining, or ‘hepeating’ – when a man rewords a point raised previously by a female colleague. You can provide Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity training and resources to ensure employees in leadership positions follow suit. You should actively promote platforms for female team members to network, and share their experiences, such as Employee Resource Groups. Make the time to gain feedback from these sessions. This is important as an employer should not project their vision of what female empowerment looks like, use the information to strengthen the organization based on what women actually want and need.

Offer Women Real Leadership Opportunities

Women are just as likely as men to be interested in bonuses, promotions, raises, and leadership development opportunities. Unfortunately, studies show that organizations expect women to be more qualified than men for the same positions, and that leadership opportunities for men often come with more resources (funding, supervisor support, team size, etc.) compared to women’s leadership opportunities. Research also shows that women are more likely to get ‘glass cliff’ positions – leadership opportunities that are high stakes, precarious, and have a high likelihood of failure.

Given these findings, it’s not surprising that many women say that the single most important thing organizations can do to attract and retain talented women is to admonish sexism and offer gender parity in pay, experiences, and real opportunities for success.

To create supportive workplaces for women, organizations need to give all genders equal opportunities to attain bonuses, promotions, raises, and develop their leadership skills. They should provide the resources and support systems that all employees need to achieve success. Mentoring and sponsorship opportunities should be made available to both male and female personnel.

Flexibility

In a recent poll, when women were asked to rate the importance of perks and benefits in the workplace, flexibility rose to the top of the list. The most important perks were paid time off, followed by healthcare benefits, paid leadership development, flexible schedules, and opportunities to work from home. Flexibility might be particularly critical when retaining talented women who also want to raise families – women with children rated having a flexible schedule and being able to work remotely as more important compared to women who didn’t have children.

If your organization is able to, provide opportunities for flexitime, part-time, and job-sharing (having multiple people share one role). When possible and practical, support employees in working remotely, and enable them to work hours that suit their lives outside of work. Creative solutions such as job-sharing, virtual work teams, and sabbatical options can help an organization find the best talent no matter where or when they need to work. 

Onsite childcare facilities

Progressive workplaces are trying to incorporate onsite childcare facilities wherever possible. This might not be easy to implement, but an increasing number of companies are getting onboard. 

In 33 states the cost of childcare is more expensive than college. Childcare assistance is equally important as paid time off, sick days, and a 401(k) for both companies and employees.

Studies indicate that performance ratings are higher and absenteeism lower among employees with access to onsite facilities versus offsite childcare. Onsite childcare facilities help reduce tardiness and stress, improving productivity and employee health and well-being. Onsite facilities offer convenience and provide parents with peace of mind. 

Unconscious Bias training

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, is a term describing the underlying attitudes and stereotypes people hold, outside of their conscious awareness and control. Gender bias is a type of unconscious bias and occurs when a person unconsciously associates certain stereotypes based on gender. This type of unconscious prejudice can influence key decisions in the workplace without people even knowing, hindering diversity, inclusion, and equality, especially in areas like recruitment, career progression, and retention. 

Supportive workplaces for women schedule regular unconscious bias training sessions for their employees, especially those in leadership positions. It is important to educate both yourself and your employees so you can recognize when unconscious biases may occur and act to ensure they are not affecting the organization. 

Organizations need to take bold steps to address equality, diversity, and inclusivity so they can create supportive workplaces for women. They need to educate the workforce to recognize and reward women who are succeeding and driving progress. And they need to address deep cultural issues to develop workplaces where all women feel heard, seen, and valued.

If you would like to discover how your company fares in these areas, take the Smart Survey and apply to get ranked as an Amazing Workplace.


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