If there aren’t a lot of women in leadership positions at your workplace, your organization might not be performing as well as it could be.
Research shows Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform companies with the lowest representation of women on boards. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found having more women in the workplace actually makes an organization a better place to work. That’s because more female talent in an organization creates greater job satisfaction, stronger organizational dedication, less burnout, better retention and higher engagement. And those responses were reported consistently by both men and women, across ages, ethnicities and industries.
Here are several strategies companies of any size can implement to champion women where you work.
- Close the pay gap. Even though women outpace men in earning college degrees, they earn just 79 cents on the dollar overall compared to men. Start at the top to commit to change. Push leadership to look at the pay gap, cultivate a culture of transparency, and set a goal.
- Involve men as allies. Gender inclusiveness needs both men and women to drive change. Every organization has men who understand the need for gender diversity — seek them out and get them engaged.
- Grow their leadership potential. A formal program for leadership program for women can help them grow their networks, make new connections, consider new career paths, and increase their influence on the business.
- Create a mentoring program. A mentorship program gives women more exposure to the company and nurtures their professional development. For example, at Unum we pair members of the women’s professional network with a mentor to build relationships, learn from experiences, and discuss developmental or career goals and how to get there.
- Sponsor high performers. Pairing executives with high-potential women through a sponsorship program can help give women the confidence and connections they need to take the next step in their careers.
- Offer employee resource groups. These employee-driven groups can help women to succeed in all aspects of life by supporting authentic leadership, a gender-intelligent culture, and a commitment to identifying and removing barriers. Understanding the needs of the women in your workforce is the first step toward creating solutions that work.
- Support new parents. Consider implementing a paid parental leave program at your own company. Unum offers new moms and dads six weeks of paid parental leave to use after birth, adoption, or foster placement. Once offices are open again, offer private space with supplies and refrigerators for nursing mothers during work hours. Shipping services such as Milk Stork are also a great option for nursing mothers to ship their milk while traveling on company business. Supporting new moms can help more women stay in the workplace and not have to choose between work and family.
- Women are overwhelmingly the primary decision-makers for their family’s health care. Telehealth benefits can support women in this responsibility while balancing the demands of work. Doctors can provide virtual help with everyday care needs, such as colds and flu, non-emergency diagnoses or filling some prescriptions. Employee assistance programs offer free counseling and extensive resources for families at every stage of life, including parenthood, divorce, or grievance.
Companies of all sizes can develop programs that support and advance working women. Although some of these strategies come with a price tag, many can be implemented with little or no cost other than time and commitment. Doing so is worth the investment and will benefit your employees and the success of your entire organization.