Forty-two percent of working women in the US report experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace.
Women in the workplace have made a considerable amount of progress, but true inclusion and belonging require more equitable action than just equality. To ensure true inclusion and belonging in the workplace, businesses must take proactive steps to remove any existing barriers to career advancement that may prevent individuals from achieving their goals.
This could include:
- Initiatives such as offering job-readiness programs for those without traditional qualifications or experience
- Creating tailored mentorship opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds
- Providing flexible work options for those with caregiving responsibilities
- Implementing policies that encourage career growth regardless of an individual’s current position or level
Additionally, businesses should be open to embracing new ideas and perspectives by offering equal representation on decision-making committees, establishing feedback loops to consider the opinions of employees from all levels of a business, and actively encouraging individuals from all backgrounds and demographics to participate in on-site learning events. By doing this, businesses can create an environment where everyone feels respected, valued and can reach their full potential.
Battling Unconscious Bias
According to a recent study in regard to construction work, applicants with male names have a 40% higher chance to be called in for an interview than their female counterparts. Recent studies like these have revealed the presence of unconscious bias in many recruitment processes. On the upside, companies are taking action to combat this by introducing ‘anonymous’ recruiting practices. These methods involve obscuring personal information from resumes and screening candidates based on skillsets alone. This is proving to be an effective way to reduce potential discrimination against female job seekers and ensure that women receive a fair chance at getting hired. It also helps to highlight their unique abilities and capabilities, allowing them to achieve success in their job search. Such anonymous recruitment practices demonstrate a company’s commitment to equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of gender.
Empower Women through Sponsorship
Around 152,000 women joined the US labor force in August 2022, and sponsorship networks are one of the best ways for women to thrive in their professional lives. By creating a mutually beneficial relationship with a more experienced and successful mentor, or sponsor, who is willing to offer guidance and advice, women can gain access to crucial opportunities that may otherwise not be available to them. These networks benefit both parties by providing the mentee with valuable information and resources while allowing the sponsor an opportunity to develop their leadership skills.
Additionally, sponsorships help create a more level playing field and reduce disparities between genders in the workplace. Women who create sponsorship networks often find themselves more empowered in their career paths due to increased access to resources and support systems that can lead to greater job satisfaction, professional growth, and career success.
Returning to the Workforce
The need to bring more women back into the workplace and encourage their success in STEM fields has become increasingly important, as these areas continue to be male-dominated. For the past 20 years, the number of women software engineers has increased by just 2%. To address this challenge, some companies have developed initiatives that are specifically designed to welcome and support women returning from career breaks. This includes providing flexible working arrangements, ongoing career development opportunities, and sponsorship or mentorship programs that help ensure a successful transition.
Such initiatives have been proven to reduce re-entry barriers for women and help them gain traction in their workplaces after a period of absence. With the right support networks in place, these businesses can increase diversity within their organization and benefit from the unique skillsets that returning female professionals bring to their teams.
Trevor Bogan is the Regional Director Americas at Top Employer Institute.