Building Fluid and Flexible Workplaces Where Women Thrive
Brenda Stanton March 08, 2023 Culture, HR Trends, Talent Management
Recent news headlines tell a story about some of the issues facing women in today’s workplace:
Exclusive survey: Women see progress in leadership roles but gaps on pay, career development persist (The Business Journals)
Women of color are leaving the workforce and vanishing from unemployment statistics (Fast Company)
‘It’s a huge concern’: Senior-level women are calling it quits after decades climbing the career ladder (MSN)
The Workforce Is Failing Women. Business Leaders Can Stop It (WIRED Magazine)
Gen Z women entering the workforce have low pay expectations, showing little has changed since the boomer generation (Forbes)
This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) has several missions, including celebrating the women forging change, elevating the visibility of women creatives, improving equality for women in the tech industry, empowering women’s choices in health, forging women’s empowerment worldwide, and building workplaces where women thrive. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, we take a closer look at how to best cultivate safe and supportive workplaces where women can thrive and grow. We delve into some of the challenges facing women in today’s workplace and look at some of the ways in which we can all play a part in creating a company culture that supports women and fosters equality.
Continue to Implement Flexible Work Policies
As we noted in a blog post before the pandemic, employers of choice had already become privy to the fact that employees have different preferences for how, when, and where they work. Continuing to offer and implement flexible work policies offers all employees, and especially women, including options for hybrid work, job sharing, or flex time – where they can work their hours around their schedule, provided they work the required number of hours per day and complete the tasks they need to get done. McKinsey and LeanIn.org’s recent report, Women in the Workplace 2022, found that women employees who can make the choice to work remotely or on-site are less burned out, happier in their jobs, and much less likely to consider leaving their companies. Data from Catalyst’s Equity in the Future of Work research found that organizations that provide access to remote work experience more well-being, productivity, innovation, and inclusion in their culture. Furthermore, remote work addresses and alleviates the physical and psychological exhaustion and burnout that so many employees, and women especially, experienced as a result of the pandemic.
Prioritize Promoting Well-Being at Work
In addition to offering flexible work schedules, addressing the root causes of burnout is paramount. Employers need to prioritize inclusive employee benefits that allow time off. During an employee’s time off, allow them to disconnect. Use the schedule send feature that most email clients support so that they receive your emails when they have returned to work, particularly if you are asking them to do something.
Organizations should prioritize creating a culture that supports mental health and wellness for employees. This might entail free access to meditation apps, paying for gym or fitness memberships, promoting access to EAPs, and mental health coverage as part of an organization’s health plan benefits.
Cultivate and Promote a Culture Where Work/Life Balance is Important
A major issue facing many women in the workplace today is juggling the demands of their professional and personal life, which may include both childcare and caregiving for an elderly parent. A study published by the University of Michigan in November 2022 found that nearly one-quarter of all American adults who care for an elderly parent also care for a child at the same time. Many women are in the “sandwich generation” and caring for both young children and their aging parents. According to Lianlian Lei, lead study author, the extra burdens facing the sandwich generation largely go unnoticed and that has to do with the fact that, “historically, the work of caregiving, both of older adults as well as of children, disproportionately falls on women,” as evidenced in the gender breakdown of the study itself.
Prioritize Wage Equality
According to the Pew Research Center, among full- and part-time workers ages 25 and older, women earned 86% of what men earned based on median hourly earnings in the third quarter of 2021.
Organizations should conduct a gender pay audit of their current employees and adopt transparent pay practices. Companies can take the Glassdoor Equal Pay Pledge as part of their commitment to paying equitably for equal work and experience.
Close the Leadership Gap
According to the Women in the Workplace 2022 report, only one in four C-suite leaders is a woman, and only one in 20 is a woman of color. Furthermore, their data shows that for every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level roles to manager positions, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted.
Organizations should provide equal advancement opportunities for women and support them in achieving their career goals. It’s valuable for an organization to invest in their talent pipeline of women leaders by offering Leadership and Development programs in order to recruit and develop female leaders. This might also involve mentorship programs. The Women in the Workplace 2022 also provides a road map to gender equality for companies, which details how to get more women into leadership roles and how to retain the women leaders they already have.
Research has found that more women in the workplace actually makes an organization a better place to work, for people of all genders. It’s critical for organizations to create a safe, empathetic work environment where women feel both psychologically safe and heard. An important component of this is stakeholders becoming better listeners and paying more attention to the changing needs of women. Open communication between leadership and employees is key and can go a long way in supporting women employees so that they can better thrive and prosper at work.
Keystone Partners is committed to helping organizations transform their culture through leadership development and training and career management services, and has been doing so for the last 40 years. Interested in learning how we can help your team create an inclusive culture where people want to work and achieve great things? Contact us today to learn how we can help you do exactly that.
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