Empowering Women in Your Organization

Women make up more than 57% of the American workforce, but in many ways, they are still finding it difficult to succeed. Women are less likely to get promoted, less likely to work as an executive, and often are still battling for equal pay. In the modern world, it is essential that organizations strive to create an environment that empowers women, creating a space for success on an individual and organizational level.

Companies that have successfully navigated creating a more friendly environment for their female employees tout their culture as the key. This  goes beyond recruiting and hiring women. In order to empower and retain women, your organization must create and maintain a culture that helps women to feel accepted, respected, and understood. From creating policy that allows for more open and honest communication of needs (both inside and out of the office) and the creation of employee assistance programs, to providing the space and resources for employees to balance their work and home lives. No matter your industry, retaining quality female employees begins with cultivating a culture of empowerment and support.

While the hiring process may not be the only aspect of creating a women-friendly workplace, it is an important first step. Often hiring processes can maintain an unconscious bias, making it more difficult to recruit and hire quality female employees. It is important to periodically examine your hiring processes to ensure that there is no bias keeping your organization from finding and hiring the best employees. When addressing changing your workplace culture, a good place to start is by sitting down with your HR team and taking a closer look at your recruiting and hiring processes.

After the hiring process, providing employees with adequate training is key to their success and to the success of your organization. This goes beyond job skills and technology, particularly for women in the workplace. One in four women report being sexually harassed at work, and the number rises when specific actions or language are referenced. While many organizations offer a once-a-year sexual harassment training, providing more could be the differentiating factor in keeping female employees. Many employees do not take the training seriously and so there is a need to create a more consistent message, whether it be a more interactive seminar or more frequent conversation in the workplace to stop harassment before it starts.

Another way to empower female employees is to create a parent-friendly environment. While women are not the only beneficiaries of parent-friendly workplaces, they are statistically more likely than men to evaluate how parent-friendly an organization is when deciding to stay. In 2014, 61% of women reported leaving jobs when having children, while only 37% of men made the same decision. This number has remained much the same as women struggle to balance work and children. Creating policies, such as adequate maternity/paternity leave can empower new parents, helping them feel that they can maintain their job while juggling being a new parent. In addition to maternity/paternity leave, organizations can offer more flexible scheduling, work from home options, or even a mother’s room in the office. These offer ways for employees to feel better about the balance of work and home, as well as creating an opportunity for them to be successful in both.

In the end, it is important that you work to remove barriers and biases in your organization. Ensure that women are not just hired, but supported, empowered, and promoted within your organization. No matter the industry, successful women in your organization will lead to larger success for the company as a whole.

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