How To Pretend You Care About Women At Work

d&i strategies gender diversity inclusive leadership managing working parents motherhood working parents Feb 02, 2022

How to PRETEND you care about women at work

Provide training opportunities out of hours

Offering additional training and networking opportunities shows that you care about supporting and developing your female employees. However offering these opportunities outside of working hours can potentially apply additional pressure and have the reverse effect. 

Women who have caring responsibilities may have to make additional arrangements to attend (which they may be charged for). Moreover, they would have to give up their free time for a chance at equal opportunities. 

Offer them mentors but not sponsors

Data from the Working Mother Research Institute finds that, while 48% of men say they have received detailed information on career paths to P&L jobs in the past 24 months, just 15% of women report the same. And, while 54% of men had a career discussion with a mentor or sponsor in the past 24 months, only 39% of women did.

Mentors generally support their mentees in private but do not advocate for them like sponsors would. It is also well known that leaders often don’t adequately sponsor or mentor people who don’t look like them (take a look at The Sponsor Dividend).  

Mandatory diversity training

Stay with us on this one. Yes, we actually offer diversity training! But it’s important that it addresses REAL problems with REAL solutions and results in REAL change. There are organisations out there who believe that putting their employees through mandatory diversity training will miraculously make their company culture fairer and more inclusive. 

Firstly, blanket training is rarely the solution. ‘Diversity training’ covers a huge area and employees can resent being taught how to do their jobs fairly and without bias. There’s so much more to it than that. You need to instead start by asking questions to get to the bottom of issues you may not yet be aware of, and engage your employees so that they feel safe to speak up. From here, you can start building a plan to make your workplace a more inclusive environment. 

How to ACTUALLY support women at work

Pay them equally

Let’s face it. Money talks. If you truly value female workers, they are paid the same as their male counterparts working at the same level. Equal pay is also a key part of your organisation's corporate social responsibility. 

The latest Swiss Labour Force Survey on self-reported income (2018) shows that men’s earnings consistently outstripped those of women. Men earned 16 percent more than women overall. The median pre-tax salary for all full-time employees last year was 85,200 francs for men and 71,500 francs for women.

For full-time executives and senior managers, the difference was 23.2 percent. For academic and scientific professions, full-time male employees earned 16.4 percent more than their female colleagues. For technicians and engineers and other related professions, the difference between men and women was 17.8 percent. 

Champion Flexible Working For All

One of the biggest barriers to women advancing at work is the belief that part-time and flexible workers are less committed. Offering reduced and flexible hours widely is a good start, but it’s not enough. 

Senior managers should be leading by example and championing flexible working for all. It should be encouraged for men and women, at all levels of the organisation, and not simply ‘allowed.’ This change needs to take place at an individual level - everything from the wording in emails to walking the talk. 

Generous parental leave for ALL employees

Of course, it’s vital to provide female employees with generous maternity packages as well as support preparing to leave and a staged return. However, one of the best ways to support women is to extend generous paternity packages to male employees too (and encourage them to use it!). 

This has many benefits for women: more opportunities, allowing them to share the load in childcare, levelling the playing field by increasing understanding from their male colleagues, and evolving organisational culture to become more inclusive for all carers. 

Empower them to pursue career aspirations

Studies show that women have absorbed over two-thirds of the additional responsibilities due to COVID-19. Mothers with young children have reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers. Consequently, the gender gap in work hours has grown by 20–50 per cent. 

Overcoming these challenges requires deliberate steps and action. You can empower employees to pursue their leadership and career ambitions along with caring roles at home. Our Empower Your Future Professional Development Programme as well as its sister programme, Mental Fitness, is a time and cost-effective way to help your female employees define their goals, overcome limiting beliefs and pursue professional and caring roles with greater confidence and conviction.

Investing in women drives commercial success, higher levels of innovation and retains your best female trailblazers. If you would like to explore the ways in which you can advance more women into leadership roles, read about our Solutions for Advancing Women or email [email protected].

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