From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, many HR management and team leaders are making an effort to improve workplace culture for women. But as they strive to dispel the “old boys’ club” environments of the past, many are realizing the task is more involved than simply hiring more women.
To help HR management and team leaders cultivate a safe, equitable, and fair working environment for all, we’ve pulled together our most practical tips for improving workplace culture for women. If you’re tired of talk and ready for action, these are the tips you’ve been looking to implement.
While hiring more women is a good start to creating an equitable work environment, it’s just that: a start. As with going green, improving workplace culture for women can greatly benefit your business. For HR management and team leaders looking to take the next step in bettering workplace culture for women, these tips will help you formulate an actionable strategy.
Offer Individual Development Opportunities
Few can argue (although some will try) that male-dominated workplaces have not only underserved women, but have even held them back. According to a University of Cambridge study, 74% of female employees believe their workplace culture makes it more challenging for women to advance their careers than men. Men agree: 42% of them, according to the same study.
Both women and men recognize inequality in the workplace, especially in regard to career advancement. While hiring more women for entry-level positions is a nice gesture, it’s vital to follow through and promote those same women as team leaders.
Another option is, of course, to hire qualified women directly into team leadership positions. In some industries, that may involve thinking outside the box. For example, in medicine and healthcare, HR management shouldn’t just look for opportunities to hire women as doctors. Other team leadership opportunities include business analysts and IT professionals, which are needed to help manage healthcare technology.
On the whole, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles. Often, unconscious gender biases are detrimental to women’s career progression opportunities. From women being interrupted in meetings and not always receiving credit for their contributions to women having less access to senior leaders and networking opportunities, the challenges women face when trying to advance in the workplace are extensive.
When your company decides to make the commitment to improving workplace culture for women, the promise cannot stop at simply hiring more women. In order to follow through, you must offer individual development opportunities and foster pathways toward advancement. You can begin by addressing gender-based training gaps in the workplace.
Promote Trust Among Colleagues Through Education
As in most aspects of their lives, women in the workplace face double standards. One area that is particularly aggravating for professional women is business dress. Women are often the target of inappropriate comments about their appearance.
As is evidenced by the #MeToo movement, inappropriate behavior all too frequently extends beyond tasteless remarks. In the event of sexual harassment cases, it’s critical to document all details, which is where a business records retention program is helpful. Establishing such practices can also help your company combat white collar crime.
But, even occurrences that don’t necessarily qualify as sexual harassment are still problematic for the workplace culture. A woman is unlikely to trust a colleague who considers it fine behavior to openly discuss the length of her skirt. It’s the job of HR management and team leaders to cultivate a workplace environment where women are empowered to share their ideas.
In order to promote trust among colleagues, it’s essential to educate the team about the different types of communication styles. You should never just assume people know how to effectively and appropriately communicate with one another. Ongoing education on topics such as gender-inclusive pronouns and recognizing personality differences and cultural differences will greatly improve workplace culture for women.
Don’t Confuse Home-Life Imbalances with Lack of Ambition
Another obstacle preventing women from moving up the corporate ladder is home-life imbalance. It’s imperative HR management and team leaders understand women are disproportionately the caregivers for children and aging family members. On average, 54% of women do all or most of the household work (compared to 22% of men), according to the Lean In survey.
Throughout the last century, we’ve witnessed women moving into male-dominated fields. However, their advancement in those fields is stalled — and, sometimes, brought to a complete halt — following completely normal life events such as marriage and childbirth. Unfortunately, most companies do only the bare minimum in order to legally comply with government legislation regarding parental leave and access to daycare.
For too long, companies have cited the false claim that women prefer to be with their children than in the workplace as a reason for not promoting women to senior leadership positions. But, study after study has proven that having children does not affect women’s desire to lead. In fact, when tracked over time, the ambition levels of women both with and without children are the same.
As your company strives to improve workplace culture for women, these tips will help HR management and team leaders cultivate a safe, equitable and fair working environment for all employees. In the end, your company as a whole — not just women — will benefit from a more socially-conscious work environment.