4 Ways to Support Women at Work

Women-friendly workplaces
Look around your workplace. How many women are there? How many women of color? Chances are, your workplace could benefit from diversity. But what about the women who are already there? Here are a few tips on how to create a better work environment for everyone, but especially women.

1) Allow flex time and working from home

In the age of the Internet, telecommuting is easier than ever before. You can Slack, Gchat, Skype, and iMessage to name a few. Gone are the days when being out of the office meant total silence, so try to implement flexible scheduling policies to accommodate folks who are most often caretakers. And it’s not just kids that require flex time these days–aging parents who require care are increasingly common. “There is a gender bias in terms of who cares for an aging parent,” says Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, PhD, coordinator of the Gerontology Program at Northeastern Illinois University. “It’s fairly universal that we think of women as a caregiver, so their role in helping an elderly parent is not uncommon.” Allowing flex time and working from home doesn’t mean that employees don’t ever have to show up, you can create some parameters if you’re concerned, but honestly, aren’t you hiring people you trust from the beginning? If you can’t trust someone to work when no one is watching, why are they in your organization?

2) Create “informal” gatherings with women in the office

In every company there are two organizations, the formal and the informal. The informal organization is the “good ol’ boys club,” the one where boys go out for whiskey after work, golf lunches, and even just conversations in the hall. Meanwhile, where are the ladies? They’re typically not sipping whiskey with the execs after hours. Perhaps the answer is to start your own “good ol’ girls club?” Start inviting ladies in the office out for drinks, strike up conversations in the hall, and really build a better informal network for you and the other women in the office. After you’ve gone to drinks a few times, start inviting the men in the office. Blending these informal groups is crucial, because the informal organization often determines who gets access to exciting projects, and at its very worst, who gets promoted or terminated.

3) Start viewing leadership differently

Certain characteristics, like aggression and individualism, are praised as emblematic of leadership, and both of those qualities are typically groomed among men. But traits like empathy and a collaborative focus are treated as silly because they’re commonly associated with the feminine. Keep the disparate treatment of leadership qualities in mind the next time you’re evaluating for a promotion. Maybe your organization will actually fare better if you have an empathetic boss who’s willing to listen to other ideas? Maybe if we start to view leadership differently we’ll see more women at the top.

4) Talk openly about compensation

The wage gap is very, very real, and it’s most stark for women of color compared to their white male counterparts, but even white women miss out on serious wages as a result of their sex. So how do we stop the wage gap? There’s no simple answer, but one easy step is to start talking wages, because wage discrimination flourishes in secrecy. Talking about pay could help you make up for some of the difference in salary—Tom is making $35,000 a year, but Shanice is making $27,000 for the same job? Armed with that info you might have a good case to take to HR. Keep in mind though that there aren’t always protections if you do start talking openly about wages, so tread lightly if your livelihood is at stake, and if you’re able, find an attorney to help you navigate the bureaucracy.
Hiring, retaining, and promoting women, especially women of color, is crucial to the success of companies. More diversity leads to innovation, and it’s just the right ting to do. How can you make your workplace more women-friendly?

What are some of the ways you make your workplace more inclusive for women?

Share Your Thoughts