No I'm not being a feminist or supporting feminism.
What I am saying is that we need to improve the workplace for women as we continue into 2020 and beyond.
Women now earn more than men, and mothers represent 40% of the breadwinners. What's even better is that companies promoting gender diversity are shown to OUTPERFORM those that don’t by over 15%! So why are women still earning about 80 cents per each dollar a man earns?
And WHY oh WHY are there so few women in leadership positions when studies show that top-performing companies have women in the C-suite? Doesn't make sense. McKinsey Global Institute found if women’s equality were advanced, it could add an astonishing $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
If women have the power to create such a positive impact in the workplace, what can organizations do now to help support women in leadership?
I strongly believe that companies MUST change their culture. Women can only promote themselves so much; companies need to step up and begin eliminating deeply ingrained biases and stereotypes about ambitious, tenacious women.
Here are some tools and inspired people practices you can use at your company to create a better workplace for women:
1. Offer a Mirror
Organizations need to provide opportunities for women to showcase their value to others. Instead of becoming so caught up in the “doing” of their jobs, encourage women to communicate how their work benefits their company (the value they add!). Communicate their value across the organization and to all employees and stakeholders.
Give the women a platform to encourage each other. Some companies have programs and community groups in place that host a variety of events throughout the year and in different cities.
Whereas other companies have online platforms that provide women with access to presentations from keynote speakers, networking events and luncheons, and in addition, wellness retreats, movie screenings, book clubs, and community service projects focused around activities women enjoy.
These are powerful and effective ways to give women a safe space to promote themselves and their colleagues.
2. Use a Magnifying Glass
This is a tough one for companies to swallow. It identifies the unwritten rules that may be holding women back in your organization. You need to have a hard look under the hood and a detailed assessment of your company culture. You need to stay tuned to what’s happening and see the whole picture.
So, ask what it takes for women to move ahead in your culture, and don’t make assumptions. Ask women directly what they want and need in order to advance and what obstacles they face. Do they need more flex time to manage kids and their activities? What about defined career paths? Perhaps you need to make returning to work after maternity leave easier. Their honest answers will help you develop effective programs to retain, attract and promote women.
3. Allow and Promote "Sponsorships"
What I mean by this is to provide opportunities for high-potential women to interact with senior executives for increased visibility. Sponsors intentionally clear the way for these women to advance. They purposefully promote them and create visible opportunities for them to accelerate their path to leadership.
So why not mentored? A report published by the Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP), states that sponsorship provides “a statistical career benefit” of up to 30% in the form of successfully negotiating high-profile assignments, promotions and pay raises. However, men are 46% more likely than women to have a sponsor, according to the report.
Women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. As a result, they miss out on the positive impact of having a sponsor.
Once your company adopts a new mindset about women and women in executive roles; then encourages employees to acquire new skills and practices surrounding this culture, women can thrive in leadership and the workplace – and your organization will reap the rewards.
Share with other women and men in your workplace!