Across our country, women are building their skills for success in the workplace. More than ever, women are ready to take on new challenges with the education and experience to significantly contribute to their organizations. As business leaders, managers and co-workers, how can we create an environment that supports women?
Create the Right Culture
An inclusive company culture is so important to creating an environment for women to succeed. What does the culture of the company you own or work in look like?
• Is your environment collaborative? Women can often most effectively contribute by working on teams, listening to the needs and concerns of all involved.
• Is there awareness that a female style is allowable and acceptable?
• Can you help women overcome some possible barriers, such as lack of significant experience, stereotyping or preconceptions about women’s roles such as commitment to personal and family responsibility?
• Are there any norms or practices that discourage women to fully participate in decision-making, sales efforts or just in daily work life? Check for indirect messages.
Put Your Commitment Into Action
After evaluating culture, organizations can take active steps to develop, promote and include women in all levels of management.
• Encourage women to present their opinions and ask for what they want
Involve women in planning teams to work with traditional senior management.
• Collect information on your workforce, make goals and benchmark the progress toward promoting women-both in position and exposure
• Make management accountable for diversity as a business objective
• Support mentorship or sponsorship relationships for women
• Review company policies and practices. For example, do you have a diversity & inclusion policy, work/life balance, wellness resources or support telecommuting or flexible work schedules?
• Conduct a salary and benefit analysis of your industry and your company. Being competitive helps to attract and retain employees.
Lastly, success is not just luck – preparation is involved. Encourage women to take initiative and be accountable for their success…Let’s take a look at a few strategies that women can use:
• Consistently exceed performance expectation
• Seek out difficult or highly visible assignments
• Ask for feedback and coaching
• Know the value that that they bring to the table and help them to ‘get ready’ to sit there!
Championing women and women’s issues in the workplace can reap a wealth of rewards for your organization. By creating a women-friendly workplace, you really are also showing all of your employees that you are listening and you care…and that is a step toward success!
By Carrie Riggle, Executive Vice President, Human Resources Manager at First Commonwealth