It has only taken me a handful of work years to discover that much needs to be done to create a better environment for women in the workplace. I am interested in helping to make change on this topic because of what I’ve experienced. What women have experienced is an obvious error in society that has been translated to the workplace.
I have been a spokesperson for three different companies, wondering if people hired me because I put my fancy makeup on or for what I am capable of delivering professionally. I have turned down jobs because of this tension. I have also experienced asking someone for help, and the other person replying with, “no, that’s a woman’s job.” I have experienced first-hand these types of comments that can convince you, if you let them, that you are not good enough or smart enough.
At the ripe age of 21, I cannot imagine what other people have faced with more years of experience in the workforce. I do not write this article to shame men (or women), to be pessimistic or unkind. But, with the motive to make leaders aware of the facts, and to provide some solution-based ideas. As we influence businesses to be more human, women need to be more resilient than ever, and never fall into the, “I’m a victim of my experiences” mentality.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 57 percent of women are currently in the labor force. That percentage is projected to grow. Women will account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018. As more organizations evolve and experiment with ways to be more human, they must unfold into places where women feel welcomed and appreciated.
One of the most obvious ways organizations can change is ensuring equal pay. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. As an organization, ask your hiring team: Are we taking this statistic into consideration when we are hiring our female employees? It is important to shake off any subconscious stereotypes as businesses are continuing to improve and become more human. Equal pay may seem like a no-brainer and obvious to some. Equal pay for equal capability and effort. But upon reflection, some business leaders may confront beliefs that lead them to judge women as inferior to men. We may judge people on their appearance without realizing it. In the hiring process, envision this and ask yourself -if this woman were a man with the same capabilities, would I pay her the same?
Educate Your Team
Historically, companies have struggled with the subject of gender equality in the workplace. It is complex, and there are few straight-forward answers on how to fix it. However, another place you can make a beginning is with educating your team and inviting them to have a vision of their ideal workplace. You can start the work of breaking the cycle. Educating your team on historical statistics is a place to start. I would encourage leaders to empower their team to create a culture vision that is sensitive to workplace equality.
Be Overt in Recognizing Your Team’s Value
We have all heard of the “imposter syndrome.” Studies show women are more susceptible to this condition. Women and men have felt this way. It’s an issue that a lot of people deal with. However, we find more articles on why so many women feel like frauds or imposters. Here is one to check out: http://ow.ly/gUGu302FxmW When we are aware of the way women could be feeling, it helps the culture of your organization. (It’s also a balance of knowing not to generalize that all women feel this way.) Ask your team, how can we provide a place that welcomes women, encourages their ideas, and nurtures their success? As a leader, it is important to recognize both men and women and make them aware of their value. These are good things to think about and talk to your team about. As the number of women in the work place increases, we must make sure everyone feels valued.
Be Confident in Calling Out Sexism
Have a company culture where people know it is okay to rebuke sexism (kindly) and hold each other to a high standard. This is a way we can make women feel as comfortable as possible. As leaders, we all want to foster a positive and productive culture, so why not? Women at this point are tired of it. We deal with it on a daily basis already. (Yes, all of us… or any woman that listens to music on the radio.) Sexism seems like a big topic, but it is often shoved under the rug. Subtle sexism is still sexism. Sexism can be more subtle, such as an indirect sexual joke between two men.
An article published in the Telegraph points out solutions for women dealing with this. The article mentions, “… a study released in August found that low-intensity sexism is just as detrimental to women in the workplace as overt harassment and discrimination.” It is imperative that men, and women, are aware of how we all feel. If your employees are more comfortable at work, they will be happier.
In conclusion, the way we are going to achieve a comfortable workplace for women is not just about education and making ourselves aware of the statistics. It is not about focusing on what’s bad, but turning our gaze to what is good, and allowing that to grow. We must highlight wonderful feminine qualities, encourage them, and make women feel valued. Not because they have a “different” perspective, but because a woman’s perspective is 50% of an organization’s success that has not been adequately tapped into yet.
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