Old school, male-centric corporate culture is dying. Open, diverse teams are taking its place. More and more strong, successful women are driving these teams. However, the battle is not over. Therefore, organizations and their leaders need to keep finding ways to empower the women they employ.
People all over the world are standing up. They are demanding employers and their leaders listen and make meaningful change. Unfortunately, policy and cultural change is only part of the solution.
Yes, women are making major strides in just about every industry. Yes, they are breaking glass ceilings to reach new heights. And yes, these feats are helping change the dialog in the workplace. Even though these hard fought battles are won over the course of many years.
“You will be defined not just by what you achieve but also by how you survive.” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
So in honor of International Women’s Day, here are 11 ways leaders can support their female employees and ensure they thrive.
Women have always struggled to garner support from their male coworkers. The gender gap is evident in every industry. From pay to opportunity to advancement, it is everywhere. Above all, this has hindered women from moving up the corporate ladder faster. Moreover, this is why we must no longer tolerate gender biases.
Leaders should educate their employees. As a result, this will create a culture which supports and empowers women to grow and succeed within the organization.
“Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Regardless of gender, people want to be accepted for their talent and skills in the workplace. Far too often, this has been a struggle for women in spite of our innumerable contributions. As we continue to thrive at work, the desire to be viewed and accepted as equals is greater than ever before.
Employers should make an effort to recognize the work of women equally. They should also not take us for granted by looking for opportunities to highlight our capabilities and accomplishments.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Maya Angelou, Poet and Civil Rights Activist
In the workplace, women should be viewed as equal and qualified peers. As human beings, whether man or woman, we must function in parallel. Regardless of position, organizations must stop allowing females to be perceived as less capable than their male counterparts.
Leaders must strive to replace gender bias. It is up to them to help change internal perceptions. They must advocate for equality in pay, responsibility, opportunity, and visibility for the women they hire.
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Gloria Steinem, Journalist and Social Political Activist
Many women have had to wait longer to advance in their careers. Men, on the other hand, have traditionally been able to achieve success much faster. Oftentimes, promotion opportunities for women are either sidelined, delayed or even dismissed.
We are qualified and invaluable contributors and should be rewarded as such. It is important managers make the conscious decision to include all employees when offering advancement opportunities to their employees.
“There is no limit to what we can do as women.” Michelle Obama, First Lady
In the past, women were forced to hide their true profiles. They were often viewed as supporters of work led by men. Today, women are starting to be celebrated for our unique abilities we bring to the workplace, but it needs to get better.
By appreciating women’s contributions more often, it can empower other women to pursue their dreams. Building on these accomplishments will inspire younger generations to create new firsts.
It is crucial organizations do more to highlight the work of female employees. They also must be mindful of our struggles and model impartiality.
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Nora Ephron, Writer and Filmmaker
Men have enjoyed unfair advantages in the workplace for centuries. Even as women have continued to persevere, historically much of their progress has been brushed aside or ignored. Therefore women need to be afforded an equal level of respect at work. To clarify, it will allow us to be taken more seriously by our peers of the opposite gender.
This is why companies should make a concerted effort to include women in all areas of the business. More importantly, as our visibility increases, it will result in higher levels of respect for women and all we’ve achieved as professionals.
“Let’s respect women for the value – let’s respect everyone, men and women, for the value they bring to the workplace.” Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
As women seek new ways to make an impact, we are more than willing to share the stage. In other words, we’re often open to collaboration and more willing to work together to reach a common goal.
Feeling included and as if our input is vital to the success of the team is important as an employee. For example, leaders can do this by ensuring there is equal representation of men and women on key projects and teams.
“I think my story says that when women are given the chance and the opportunity, that we can achieve a lot. We deliver.” Sara Blakely, Founder at Spanx
Through the years, their jobs and careers have forced women to fit a mold. For instance, these limitations only allowed women to fill certain roles in the workplace.
Until Jeannie Marie Leavitt became the first in 1993, fighter pilot was once thought of as off limits for women. Today, there are over 800 female fighter pilots in the United States Air Force.
In fact, female fighter pilots have proven to be just as capable as their male counterparts. So much so that in 2011, an all-female team of airmen flew a historic mission in Afghanistan.
Like the military, other organizations must create cultures which support women in every facet of their business.
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player
There is a gender pay gap which exists. Female employees who hold the same job with the same responsibilities are often paid less than men. Women don’t want to have success in title only. We want our salaries to reflect the same success.
In the workplace, one of the most common biases are salaries. This is why more leaders need to take this into account when hiring female employees. It is also why eliminating the pay gap is a must in order for women to truly feel empowered.
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Estee Lauder, Businesswoman
The number of female business owners and entrepreneurs has grown significantly in recent years. These businesses are flourishing as a result of their open, diverse workplaces and the dedication and perseverance of their female owners. In fact, as a nationally certified woman owned enterprise, TrainingPros has become a leader in the learning and development industry.
However, there are more women who deserve a fair chance to make their vision a reality by fulfilling their aspirations. This is why business leaders need to endorse and promote the efforts of businesswomen and entrepreneurs whenever possible.
“There need to be more women supporting women. Not just in fashion, in general.” Victoria Beckham, Singer and Fashion Designer
Focusing on degrees and career advancement are more important to women than ever before. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted from marriage and family first to gaining financial independence and career success first.
Comparatively, there is a tendency for younger women to be more career focused than prior generations. As a result they’re striving for independence and the freedom to make their own choices. By taking time to mentor and encourage women to take advantage of training opportunities, supervisors can enable them to pursue their ambitions with greater success.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me. It’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand, Writer and Philosopher
Over time, empowered women will continue to break barriers and drive change. Similarly, as new opportunities arise, we will continue to prove we are qualified, talented and capable. While these points are certain, ensuring lasting change is not. Therefore, women must also find ways to embolden and support other females in the workplace.
Many organizations have committed to ending inequality in their culture. However, they can still do more by challenging leaders at all levels of the business to be more compassionate and aware of biases. They also need to do more to help managers support, recognize, appreciate, include, respect, endorse and promote without doubt the abilities of their female employees.
We should expect equal treatment in the workplace. Above all, businesses should commit to creating opportunities for representation, advancement and mentoring with the same effort as our male equals.
These are the characteristics of true leaders. These are the hallmarks of empowerment and true, permanent change.
“For there’s always light if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Amanda Gorman, Poet
How does your organization’s leaders support women and their needs? What are some of the ways your supervisor, manager or team lead has empowered you or your female coworkers? What each of us has to say matters, share your stories with me!