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Empowering Women in the Workplace

Empowering
Women in the
Workplace

Blog Post

Creating the right balance requires authenticity and open-mindedness

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Arundi Venkayya

Arundi Venkayya, 
Marketing and Public Relations Manager

Hasbro recently introduced Ms. Monopoly, a version designed to promote gender equality and honor innovative women. In addition to making the version more female-centric, it also pays women more than male players. The game has met with mixed reviews from the media, advocates and influencers.

Love or hate this idea, the game is one of the latest moves across the country to raise awareness of women in the workplace and issues surrounding gender equality. Many businesses have pledged to devote more resources and time to leveling the playing field for women in the workplace.

Consider this:

  • There are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force.
  • Almost 47% of U.S. workers are women.
  • More than 39% of women work in occupations where women make up at least three-quarters of the workforce.
  • Women own close to 10 million businesses, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of mothers with children younger than 18 are in the workforce, and mothers are the sole breadwinners for 40% of households with children younger than 18.

Women who are treated equally in the workforce have a powerful impact on company results. The 2018 McKinsey study Delivering through Diversity reports that gender equality on executive teams is “strongly correlated with profitability and value creation.”

In the 2018 McKinsey report “Women in the Workplace,” there is a call for companies to take more decisive action on gender diversity. The report calls for “setting targets to holding leaders accountable for results. It requires closing gender gaps in hiring and promotions, especially early in the pipeline when women are most often overlooked. And it means taking bolder steps to create a respectful and inclusive culture so women – and all employees – feel safe and supported at work.”

What you can do

Perhaps you’re one of the businesses that made this a priority many years ago, or better yet, already have fair representation through pay and leadership. Even if you’re not quite there, there are things you can do to ensure women are being represented fairly. Here are some tips for encouraging equality:

Careful listening

  • Be transparent. People want to know that you are trying to make things right and want to value people and their work equally. Let your team know that gender equity is important to your values and what you are doing to ensure it.
  • Be cautious. Understand that this can be a sensitive subject. Be open to employees who are uncomfortable with the topic. Be prepared to listen to all employees genuinely, and don’t be dismissive of how anyone feels.
  • Do an internal audit. If you see that women are paid less than your male employees, address it. If you are transparent, people generally will understand that you may not be able to fix things immediately, but if you are genuine in your intent, they typically will appreciate the effort.

Leadership and mentoring

  • Develop in-house champions from all levels of the organization. Empowering female and male advocates will allow the team to feel connected and take ownership of the initiative.
  • Embrace different leadership styles. Not everyone leads in the same way. Some people prefer following a hierarchy, while others are more focused on consensus building. Both styles can be effective if given the opportunity to showcase them.
  • Consider whether it’s time to revisit the roles in your organization – particularly leadership roles. Are there opportunities or needs for new or different positions that would benefit from different leaders than the status quo? Assessing potential rather than competencies offers opportunities to help female leaders grow into positions, new or old.

Benefits

  • Reevaluate your benefits and flexible time off. Balancing work and home can be overwhelming, and knowing there’s the opportunity for flexibility (when possible) can make all of your employees feel more valued.
  • Revisit your mentoring program. Make sure that there are opportunities for women to receive interesting, challenging opportunities where they can learn and grow to help them in their current role. Maybe a job switch or trade would help them round out some missing skill sets.

Recognition

  • Give credit where it’s due. According to Harvard Business Review, minority women, in particular, often don’t receive credit in the form of acknowledgement, praise, promotion or compensation as their counterparts.
  • Incorporate exit interviews if you don’t use them now, and ask honest, meaningful and, yes, probing questions. Often people are reluctant to answer these honestly because they are either being nice or don’t want to burn bridges. The reality is, you can’t make improvements if you don’t have a true picture of what’s wrong.

We know it’s difficult to make radical changes quickly in most businesses. However, prioritizing gender equality and embracing the unique skills and talents of women will likely pay dividends in more engaged employees and improved bottom line business results.

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