In the age and rise of the #MeToo movement, women across the world have changed the way we discuss about gender equality in the workplace; bringing to light the hurdles, discrimination and inequity they face on a day to day basis. However, as more women break the glass ceiling and rise to higher positions in the workplace, women are still not being properly represented in the workplace.
While the saying “I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no man” rings true, women can only do so much on their own to champion themselves. Without the support of the organisation, peers and leaders, both male and female, helping to eliminate gender bias in the workplace, the work of powerful female figures in history would have been futile. So, how do we help and empower the women we work with?
Set Goals for Gender Diversity Improvement In Your Workplace
As a leader, take a good look at your organisation and figure out which areas need improvement. Start by listening to your employees’ feedback about what you can do to improve their work life, how you and the organisation can make them feel like they are part of a family (research has shown that the more employees feel like they are part of a dynamic team, the better their productivity). Listen to what makes them feel uncomfortable/unheard, and their feedback on how the workplace can be improved. From there, establish goals for yourself and the organisation to attain in a certain timeframe. It is worth noting that making these changes is one thing, but having them consistently implemented across the organisation is another. Be sure that other leaders are also helping to uphold the standards, and are holding others accountable too.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements Across The Board
Offering flexible work arrangements allows your employees to find the right balance between their work and home lives. Women are (still) expected to play multiple roles - from being a working mother to being the sole breadwinner of the house, can be a really tough ask. By giving employees the flexibility and option to work remotely, you are allowing women to fully embody the roles they have to play; both at home and at work. (Note that this option can and should be open to male employees as well)
Furthermore, we are in the time right now where working from home is the new default working arrangement. If your employees are able to carry out their work roles remotely, that should be the default work arrangement. This shows that you respect them as your employees, the various roles they play and most importantly, as humans.
Close The Pay Gap
Across the board, it is known that women are paid significantly less than what men are paid. Just because women are traditionally seen as homemakers and caregivers, does not mean they are incapable of carrying out corporate responsibilities on an equal (if not higher) standard than men do. Thus, women are deserving of equal (if not higher) pay with their male counterparts (of course, this all comes down to experience too).
Moreover, in the 21st century, why are women still being paid significantly less than men are, yet are expected to take on more responsibilities and held to a ridiculously high standard?
Create Strict Policies On Sexual Harassment, Assault and Inappropriate Workplace Behaviour
As cases of workplace harassment rise across all industries, it is no wonder that women still feel underrepresented and unprotected in the workplace. As a leader, you should create and uphold strict policies on sexual harassment, assault and misconduct in the workplace.
By implementing strict and non-negotiable policies, female employees (and employees in general) can find some comfort and safety in the workplace. Additionally, studies have shown that the more employees feel comfortable in their workplace, the better their productivity. Strict policies protect vulnerable employees from being physically and mentally hurt by others, and can be detrimental to their personal lives outside the walls of work.
By holding those who do harm responsible, you are sending the message that you care and want to protect your vulnerable employees. Nothing is more comforting than knowing that your leadership has got your back no matter what, and will go out of their way to get the justice you deserve.
These are just a few of the steps we can take to help empower and lift women in the workplace. It is our responsibility to champion and pave the way for future generations of powerful female leaders, and this is just the beginning. Without community support and advocacy, we could be looking at a much more detrimental situation.