As we experience the effects of the ‘Great Resignation’, many organizations are faced with a harrowing prospect: losing their female leaders. According to McKinsey & Company’s report, Women in the Workplace 2022, “women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate we’ve ever seen—and at a much higher rate than men leaders.” The pipeline for female leaders is diminishing, and organizations risk losing valuable and impactful leaders as a result. Empowering women in the workplace will engage and retain critical female talent, while allowing organizations to reap the benefits of multi-faceted female leadership.
Understanding Why Women Feel Unempowered and What We Can Do About It
After surviving the Covid pandemic, one of the most challenging times in the personal and professional lives of many, women have begun to reevaluate their needs. If nothing else, the Covid pandemic showed women that flexibility is not only beneficial but crucial to success. Offering employees the flexibility to choose a location arrangement that fits their lifestyle will benefit an organization as a whole, especially women. According to the Women in the Workplace 2022 report, “women employees who can choose to work in the arrangement they prefer—whether remote or on-site—are less burned out, happier in their jobs, and much less likely to consider leaving their companies.”
Women also face continued adversity in the workplace that existed long before Covid and has failed to weaken over time. Women continue to report that characteristics, such as being a parent or caregiver, cause them to be passed over for advancement opportunities. They also “are far more likely than men in leadership to have colleagues imply that they aren’t qualified for their jobs. And women leaders are twice as likely as men leaders to be mistaken for someone more junior” (Women in the Workplace 2022). These microaggressions, intentional or not, require scrutiny and action from leadership if organizations intend to truly empower and engage women.
Benefits of Empowering Women in the Workplace
The Center for Creative Leadership conducted a large study on workplace environments. Their research found that “having a higher percentage of women in the workplace predicted:
- More job satisfaction;
- More organizational dedication;
- More meaningful work; and
- Less burnout.”
This is due in no small part to women being heavily involved in efforts related to employee well-being and DEI. According to McKinsey & Company, “compared with men at their level, women leaders do more to support employee well-being and foster DEI—work that dramatically improves retention and employee satisfaction but is not formally rewarded in most companies.” Rewarding and recognizing the involvement in these activities will not only empower women to succeed but benefit the organization at large.
5 Tips for Empowering Women in the Workplace and Those Around You
Playing an active role in empowering women is important no matter your gender identity. Below are five actions organizations and individuals alike can take to begin empowering women and serving as an ally in the workplace.
1) Offer and protect flexibility. According to The Mom Project, “88% of working women consider flexibility to be the most important factor in job satisfaction, greater even than salary.” Giving women (and arguably, all employees!) agency in choosing where and how they work will not only provide the flexibility to balance work and family life, but will also promote well-being.
2) Provide clear opportunities for advancement. Women often experience the playing field as uneven when it comes to advancing in an organization – finding men are evaluated on their potential, and women on their previous experience and contributions. If there is a project or promotion available, advocate on behalf of a woman as the best choice to fill the role. Whether you are a man or a woman, be aware of gender biases and champion female colleagues for new opportunities!
3) Actively engage women in meetings. If you are facilitating a meeting, takes stock of who is participating. Are men dominating the conversation? If so, proactively engage female participants. This is increasingly important while facilitating virtual meetings, when the ability to chime in can be awkward and difficult.
4) Be aware of “extracurricular” involvement. Women often assume tasks that might not be directly related to their day job. According to HBR’s article, “Recent research shows that women volunteer for non-promotable tasks more than men and are far more likely to be directly asked to take them on.” That might be participating in an employee resource group, planning social events or volunteering to take meeting minutes. If you notice a woman is consistently volunteering, make it a point to recognize this or find ways to more equitably distribute these tasks. For example, if a woman always takes the notes in a meeting, implement a rotational schedule that has a different person take notes each time.
5) Acknowledge and close the wage gap. The Mom Project shares that “men are 4x more likely to ask for a raise. As a result, the pay gap persists and women make just 70¢ on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.” Acknowledge this as a possibility in your organization and advocate for compensation analysis to uncover discrepancies. If found, create a plan to strategically address existing pay gaps and to prevent them in the future.
Empowering women in the workplace benefits women and organizations alike. Teamraderie is here to support your efforts in connecting women and helping everyone on your team feel empowered through our interactive experiences. Learn more today!