10 Substantial Ways to Empower Women in the Workplace - Netchex
Human Resources
Mar 1, 2024

10 Substantial Ways to Empower Women in the Workplace

10 Substantial Ways to Empower Women in the Workplace
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Today’s offices look very different from the ad agency in Mad Men—and that’s a good thing, in more ways than one. From the #MeToo movement to fights over the office thermostat, we still have much room for progress. While keeping track of benefits and pain points for women in the workplace, let’s continue to develop (and implement) better strategies for female empowerment. Discover ways to empower women at your company with these comprehensive tips.

Benefits of a diverse workplace 

In the decades since WWII, women’s participation in the American workforce has risen from 32.7% (in 1948) to 56.8% (in 2016). It started as a matter of wartime necessity, but employers (and workers) saw the many benefits of gender diversity. Engagement and job satisfaction improve when you’re able to hire the most motivated workers. A diverse workforce has fewer blind spots and more potential for innovation. 

  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Less burnout
  • More dedication to the business
  • More meaning to the work
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Increased retention

Major pain points for women in workplace

Racial and sex-based employment discrimination is illegal under Title VII. It’s harder to quantify (much less legislate) microaggressions and subtle expressions of sexism. Even so, seemingly minor discrepancies tend to preserve systemic inequalities. 20 years ago, the median hourly pay of women was 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. In two decades, that figure only increased by 2 cents. Here are just a few of the ways that women continue to struggle in the business world:

  • Discrimination
  • Unequal pay
  • Caregiving responsibilities
  • Sexual harassment
  • Microaggressions
  • Lack of visibility
  • Career advancement
  • Health concerns

Ways to better empower women in workplace

It’s not enough to celebrate Women’s Month and spotlight the occasional #GirlBoss. Last year’s Barbie movie highlighted some of the extreme pressures on modern women, but the Critics’ Choice Award still went to Ken. Societal change is a lengthy slog that requires an ongoing commitment.

Listen early and often

You’ve seen it on social media with clap emojis: Listen. To. Women. Use HR surveys for anonymous feedback and track feedback over time. Encourage women to report harassment and inappropriate behavior. Minor incidents might be part of a larger pattern. Women shouldn’t be afraid of retaliation for speaking out.

Amplify women’s voices + ideas

Inclusion goes further than hiring women and inviting them to the table. Women learn to use “weak language” because it’s often expected, especially in professional settings. Make sure that women and their contributions aren’t overlooked. In group projects and presentations, encourage collaboration in your company culture.

Ensure fair pay

Younger women have made better progress toward fair pay than their older colleagues. Nevertheless, women under 35 still make around 92 cents for every dollar paid to a man. Take steps to prepare for pay transparency, which might become a requirement in some cities and states. Why do different people in the same role earn different rates of pay? Should some of those policies be changed?

Increase work flexibility

Does your company give better opportunities to workers without commitments at home? Are working parents (particularly mothers) penalized for having to schedule their workday around school hours? Take advantage of remote work lessons from the pandemic, and find the right balance with a hybrid work environment.

More inclusive training

Inclusivity, like the rest of DEI, requires a year-round commitment. Take advantage of training sessions to give women and minority workers more leadership experience. More than three-fourths of all HR workers are female, and women facilitators can help with diversity ratios in onboarding. 

Foster female-led mentorship

Women can provide gender-specific advice and insights to trainees. According to Forbes, “Women and minorities greatly benefit from formal programs to find mentors, whereas it’s easier for white males to find them informally.” Successful women demonstrate what’s possible at your company, and mentorship allows you to develop new female leaders.

Hire & promote more women

Instead of a “glass ceiling” at the C-suite level, new research suggests that minorities are slowed by a “broken rung” much lower in the career ladder. Women have a harder time getting promoted out of entry-level positions, which gives male colleagues a head start. Make sure you promote professional growth for everyone. Opportunity is the key to empowering women and all employees.

Enact fair maternity + parental leave policies

Women who take advantage of maternity leave can miss professional opportunities. When men are encouraged to take parental leave, the long-term gender disparities are reduced. A recent study found that direct exposure to increased paternity leave promoted gender-egalitarian views in political and socioeconomic domains.

Be aware of & work to remove gender bias

Do you have policies to identify and address workplace biases? Promotions, harassment, and parental leave are essential topics for your employee handbook. Take advantage of the employee review process to make sure everyone has opportunities to succeed.

Cultivate a culture of support and inclusivity

Inclusivity isn’t just about virtue signaling or celebrating Pride Month at work. Make sure you’re building real support networks and resources for minority workers. Mothers and caregivers who can’t stay late at the office will benefit from remote connectivity. Let your workers access Learning Management Software (LMS) and other development tools from home as their schedule allows.

Discover how Netchex can help your company empower women in the workplace:

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