Did you know that companies that actively prioritize gender representation are 15 percent more profitable than the median of their industry? 15 percent is a big number and for those companies that are not prioritizing gender diversity, it’s a lot of extra profit that they are missing out on. The best way to ensure that your business isn’t letting that 15 percent slip by is simple: ensure that women are empowered and represented within your workplace! In honor of Women’s Equality Day celebrated on last August, we at Mazur and Associates would like to address the hot-button issue of female empowerment in the workplace. While we have done research on how to specifically empower women for this post, applying these tips to any group of employees–whether they be classified by a gender, sexuality, or race–is sure to make them feel welcomed, included, valued, and empowered as well.
There are some really simple ways to ensure that your workplace is one that empowers women. First, it is important to be aware of your representation at the higher responsibility levels of your business. Promoting women and allowing them to succeed in positions of leadership and power will not only empower them individually, but will empower the employees whom they supervise by demonstrating that there are opportunities for them to excel as well. Promotion can take place at any level, from team leadership to C-level leadership. Letting women stand at the helm of new projects and initiatives provides a vote of confidence as well, causing a positive ripple effect for women throughout the office. Actions speak louder than words!
We do know that is isn’t possible to promote everyone all the time. When promotion is not an option, we advise you to take the opportunity to focus on training and developing women in your office so that they are ready for a promotion when one comes along. It is crucial that you as an employer or as a senior coworker create and connect women to opportunities for them to improve upon and expand their skillsets. By providing these opportunities for growth, you show your investment in them as employees and in their success within their career. Mentorships are the best way to connect women to these opportunities. The one on one guidance and continued relationships that mentorships provide are invaluable. Creating both in house and outside mentorship programs to pair female employees with trusted senior colleagues within your networks will ensure that your female employees have access to opportunities to learn and expand their success. It would also be helpful to refer women on your team for new projects that you’re aware of. While men are usually chosen for roles based on their potential, women are typically chosen for their prior experience. By leveraging your leadership, you can create opportunities for women to expand their experience and to prove themselves, even if they have not had that type of experience before.
Day to day work experiences cannot be overlooked either. While granting promotions and increasing mentorship and learning opportunities are big picture goals for empowering women, their daily work experience has a significant impact on how they feel about their career within your company. Reviewing what your workplace has in place for women as far as policies on harassment, discrimination and bias is something that you should do often as an employer. Having a plan when offenders are identified is also a large part of ensuring that women feel empowered within the workplace. The corrective measures taken to handle offenders quickly and definitively will show women that they are supported, valued, and included in their work environment. This support will allow them to focus their energy into their work which in turn will help your business overall. This kind of support doesn’t stop once your female employees leave the office, either. It is important to support parents and their need for parental leave. Reviewing your parental leave policies to ensure that parents are given ample time off to make sure their new family duties are taken care of will help reduce the stress of returning to work that often plagues new mothers and hinders their productivity. Consider creating a policy that allows women to work from home or outside of regular business hours to help them balance their duties at home and at work. This flexibility will give them peace of mind and allow them to meet all of their responsibilities to the fullest.
Another great way to empower women in your workplace is to celebrate and acknowledge their strengths. Give praise when it is well deserved to not only empower women but to retain valuable employees. This is especially helpful to other women looking to increase empowerment within their business. Recognizing other women will create a positive feedback loop of growth and empowerment. It is also important to support and amplify women in meetings and discussions on any level from the boardroom to team discussions. Success is about confidence just as much as it is about competence. Having support or at the very least respect in public spaces where women are presenting themselves and their opinions will create more spaces for them to feel comfortable speaking openly on an equal level.
Speaking openly about trials and tribulations as someone in a position of power is also extremely helpful, especially if you are a woman in a position of power. This takes away the illusion for women that in order to be successful they need to do everything right every time. Setting measurable targets and goals can also help with fighting this illusion. When women reach these goals, they will have something concrete to show for their efforts and use that evidence to boost themselves up to the levels that they need for pay raises and promotions. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help ensure that women are being recognized for their efforts as well as when discussing promotion opportunities.
Lastly, openness about salaries is a requirement if you intend to participate in fair pay structures. The concept that discussing salaries is “unprofessional” or “inappropriate” is a rouse companies use to hide their unfair payment structures. To empower women and to show that you as an employer are treating all employees equally, it is important to be as transparent as possible when it comes to salaries. “Equal pay for equal work” should be more than a slogan for each and every employer!
We here at Mazur and Associates strongly believe that all marginalized groups of employees must be empowered and supported in their workplace. Not only is this movement for empowerment supportive of human dignity, but it can also improve your businesses productivity and profitability! There is no down side to recognizing and implementing these strategies within your organization. As always, at Mazur & Associates, CPAs and Business Advisors, PC, we are here to counsel your team and answer any questions pertaining to your business operations. Please call us at (732) 936-1230 to speak with a CPA business advisor or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!