As the dust settles and we reflect on this year’s International Women’s Day, some workplaces may be left with more questions than answers, and more confusion than clarity.
You may be asking yourself, ‘How can I make my businesses more inclusive?,’ or ‘What can I do to ensure the women on my team feel supported and valued?’. There is no shame in asking these questions, because this is how we educate ourselves as individuals, and ensure that we advocate for change within our businesses.
Work Wales is led by two female Directors, Christina Allen and Sophie Benyamin, who have had to overcome many obstacles and challenges to get to where they are today. We are so grateful to have two incredibly strong and talented women spearheading the business, but it’s a tragedy that what we see as something to be celebrated, other organisations may see as a threat.
It's never too late to bring about change, so if you know you need to put measures in place to ensure your workplace is a welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment for female employees, we’ve created a few pointers that you may find useful.
This should be a priority when it comes to recruitment efforts within your organisation. If you actively understand that this is an issue that needs addressing, the rest of your team are likely to adopt the same way of thinking.
Once you have identified that this is an area you need to work on (if you work in a male-dominated industry, such as tech, marketing or STEM, for example), then the next step is to ask your existing employees what they think the business could be doing differently.
When you’re next recruiting for management roles, this is an excellent opportunity to diversify your senior team. You can either hire women for these roles, or promote the women within your team who are looking to further their careers. This will go a long way in demonstrating to your team that you are making headway in diversifying your business, and it will be incredibly encouraging to other female employees.
A little kindness goes a long way in terms of confidence and empowerment. If your workforce is largely male-dominated and you have female employees who are doing an exceptional job, make sure everyone knows about it!
Celebrate their strengths and their accomplishments publicly, and when they share their new ideas and initiatives, recognise them! Give credit where credit is due, and open up the conversation for further exploration.
This validation and praise will go so far in helping female employees feel included, accepted, and valued in the workplace. When this happens, the shift in morale and productivity will be almost instantaneous.
Flexible working arrangements and work from home options should be offered to your workforce.
Some of your female employees may have children, and it is often the case that most childcare responsibilities during the working day will fall to the mother, particularly if both parents work full time. Mums would benefit from flexible working arrangements to enable them to do the school runs, and to be with their child if they become ill.
Understanding that your female employees may need more work from home days than their male counterparts, or may have to use an unexpected flexi day to deal with a childcare emergency, will go a huge way in making them feel valued and accepted at work.
We often find that when men picture working with women, a certain stereotype may come to mind. Women are emotional, they like to gossip, they love shopping and getting their hair done, and all they want is to get married and have babies.
Well, this really isn’t the case! All women have unique personalities and interests that should be respected. Gender bias is still a very real thing that is prevalent in the workplace, and it’s unacceptable.
If you have female employees, it’s important to value all of their different qualities, because that’s what makes them the amazing professional that they are. See the woman for who she is and what she brings to your business, rather than what mainstream media will lead you to think she ‘should’ be.
Create a Safe Working Environment
Some women are uneasy about working in largely male-dominated companies because they feel unsafe.
Throughout the years, some men have treated their female colleagues with disdain, disrespect, and have even seen them as objects for sexual harassment. This has only been exemplified by the #MeToo campaign, where thousands of brave women all across the world have come forwards with their accounts of sexual misconduct within the workplace. As an employer, the responsibility falls with you to ensure your female colleagues feel safe and protected while at work.
Close the Pay Gap!
This is entirely down to you as the employer. If you have a male and a female working within your company in the same role, with the same experience, they should both be paid the same salary.
There really is no excuse for companies to pay their female employees less than their male counterparts; it will only increase tension and make female employees feel alienated and underappreciated.
Make the Change
Change starts with you; you truly have the power to make a difference in your workplace, so why not start today? Reassess the salaries of your female employees compared to your male employees, and if there’s a difference, then it’s time to take action.
While women are steadily gaining recognition and traction within the workplace, and are filling more senior positions, they can only do so much to promote themselves. Employers must start doing their part in eliminating bias and inequality within their companies, and ensure they are offering a welcoming, inclusive, and fair workplace for all people, from all walks of life.
If you need any further advice on how to make your business a more inclusive place to work, we’re happy to set you on the right track and provide you with our professional expertise.
Give us a call on 01792 477340 or email email@example.com to get in touch.