Management & Leadership

How Leaders Can Support Women in the Workplace

According to a study done by HBR, companies with more women in senior leadership positions provide better customer experiences. Yet Kindred states that only 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and less than 1% are women of color. Diversity and inclusion in the workforce have proven suitable for companies – higher profits, higher revenues, and more engaged employees. While the working environment has shown improvement in the inclusion of women, leaders need to continue to step up and support all women in the workplace. 

It seems that women still face many challenges in their careers. Between accessible childcare, wage disparities and balancing their professional and personal lives, women professionals juggle various responsibilities and want to continue to thrive in their working environment. Leaders should recognize the unique challenges women face and provide opportunities for them to grow and achieve success in their careers. 

Tips for Leaders to Support Women in Business 

As leaders and managers work to improve inclusion in the workplace, here are some helpful tips on how leaders can support women in the workplace. 

1. Lead by example 

Support should start at the management level. When leadership encourages support and inclusion, there is a trickle-down effect that happens throughout the company. Providing opportunities and ongoing training should be standard practice. Further, fostering a company culture that emphasizes inclusion and empowerment will help all employees thrive and reach their full potential. 

2. Access to childcare 

Many women are forced to reduce their work hours or take a leave of absence from their career (sometimes permanently) because of lack of accessible childcare. Childcare can be expensive or simply unavailable, and women historically take on the majority of childcare in the household. According to Forbes, 54% of women took leave from work when first becoming a parent as opposed to 42% of men. Plus, women take ten times as much temporary leave from work as men upon the arrival of a child. Without a national paid leave policy, this usually means that women are taking home less or no money during their time off.” By providing accessible childcare such as extended benefits, family leave, and flexible schedules women can continue their careers and balance their personal lives.

3. Equal promotion opportunities 

Sometimes, women might not put themselves forward for a promotion or growth opportunity. This is where leaders can step in and support women in their careers. Leaders can encourage continuous growth and development and focus on goal setting as well as learning opportunities in their role. Every professional at the same level should be treated fairly, and progress should be celebrated and recognized accordingly. 

4. Address pay inequity 

Historically, women have often been paid less than their male counterparts in the same position. To combat this phenomenon, companies should conduct a pay equity audit to ensure that all professionals are being paid equitably for their respective roles. This also means that companies need to be more transparent about salaries and expectations as well as have honest conversations about the importance of equal pay and closing the gender pay gap. Transparency is key to solving this issue and leaders need to actively make sure that salary audits are conducted regularly to avoid unfair pay disparity. 

5. Provide mentorship 

Mentorship programs are a great way to provide guidance and support for all professionals. According to Business Wire, 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence. Mentors can be allies as well as help women grow in their roles and give them advice on how to advance in their careers. One study showed that retention and promotion rates for women participating in mentoring programs increased from 15% to 38%.

6. Enhance workplace conditions 

Women want to feel safe at work. Not only do they want to feel like they are physically safe but they are in a safe space without harassment and discrimination either. Companies should take training and policies seriously as well as cultivate a workspace where every professional, especially women, are respected and protected.

7. Improve benefit packages 

In order for women to continue their careers, they need the flexibility to focus on their families as well. Expanding medical and family leave to men will help balance household responsibilities and therefore potentially give women more options when it comes to balancing work and home. When giving PTO and other leave, allow for flexibility but also allow for employees to come back to work without judgment for taking the time off to manage their personal issues. Small changes like this can help women in a big way to focus on their careers and become strong leaders in the future.  

Women need to be supported and given the space to work on their goals and aspiration. Companies that provide equal opportunities and provide a safe environment for all professionals are ones that build their employees and give them the opportunity to thrive. This in turn fuels business success and makes the workplace better for everyone.

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