Regardless of how you identify, we must pay close attention to how women fair in today’s workplace. To create an equitable and inclusive workplace, we must pay attention to the workplace barriers against some that ultimately impact us all.
“According to the majority of Americans, women are every bit as capable of being good political leaders as men. The same can be said of their ability to dominate the corporate boardroom. And according to a new Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership, most Americans find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men in terms of being compassionate and organized leaders.” Source
Why Does Gender Diversity & Inclusion Matter in the Workplace?
Barriers still exist. For years diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have focused on systemic issues. Systemic discrimination can be described as patterns of behavior, policies or practices that are part of the structures of an organization and which create or perpetuate disadvantage for certain persons. Although we have, in many cases, done a good job with policies when it comes to equitable treatment of women in the workplace, many informal barriers still exist. Exclusionary patterns of behavior or unhealthy workplace culture can undo a good policy every day of the week. Sure, we advocate for equity in pay and hiring, but cultural practices still keep many women outside the inner circle. When they do get in, all things might be equal, yet getting inside is too often the real battle.
What Leaders Can Do To Support Women in the Workplace
If you are a supervisor, be mindful of your own implicit bias toward women in the workplace. Ask yourself:
- How are you making space or creating opportunities for women you supervise to lead?
- What are the unconscious barriers erected in your workplace that might hinder a woman in the workplace from being promoted? Some examples are:
- Extensive travel requirements, women still tend to be the primary caretakers in families, especially in multi-generational homes
- Exclusive invites to certain types of events “sports, bars, gym, etc.” Don’t assume these are just “guy” activities.
- Has my chivalry become a form of discrimination? Trying to protect women can convey that women can’t handle the load. Other employees might become resentful. When it comes time for pay/promotion evaluations, it appears that the “protected” woman did not take on the challenges that others on the team picked up.
- Are you minding the gap? Women and men enter the workforce in roughly equal numbers; women fall behind in promotions from the very first step on the management ladder. The key to improving these odds lies with senior leaders – male and female – to ensure women are not left behind.
- Is your leadership model the right one? For many women, reaching executive positions means consistently outperforming men with the same level of recognition. The costs and the challenges to reach the top are too high. Some women are leaving the corporate world and transitioning instead to business ownership because it allows for greater control over their time and productivity. Women business owners can lead in a way that suits their style. If organizations don’t recognize one size does not fit all, many more talented women will walk out the door. Good for them, bad for the organization.
Other things to be mindful of:
- Talk it out. More awareness and conversation on gender is surely a good thing, but is this “noise” masking a lack of real action and progress? Be systematic to get to the real issues.
- Be committed. Attracting and developing more women in leadership roles requires company-wide change, driven from the top. Get more women in the pool.
- Develop your talent. Retention, succession, addressing the skills gap, and committing to inclusion are some of the ways organizations can challenge the status quo. Make sure your organizational culture is built to help women succeed.
There are numerous tools available to help you become a more inclusive leader for women in the workplace. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Glen and his team if you need coaching or workplace training.
Clients and audiences tend to hire Glen Guyton when they are experiencing one or more of the following:
- They don’t know how to get started.
- Current diversity programs have created resentment and polarization.
- Leaders are having difficulty managing the different generations in the workplace.
- Their previous diversity and inclusion speakers didn’t get it.
- There is limited diversity in the leadership of the organization.
- They have just been through a crisis related to discrimination or another type of social injustice.
Don’t worry. Many organizations are in the same boat. Glen can help.