It’s no secret that traditional workplaces were considered a male’s domain. Hardworking men held the top positions while women typically held domestic roles or worked as secretaries. As there are more women in the workplaces of corporate America, the composition of the workforce is drastically changing. Currently, women hold 52% of professional jobs (Ilgaz, 2014). Despite women making up a slight majority of the professional workforce, only 14.6% of these women are executive officers, only 8.1% are top earners, and only 4.6% are Fortune 500 CEOs (Ilgaz, 2014). These statistics on women in the workplace are not acceptable.
Truth is, studies show that companies with more female board members, on average, perform significantly better financially (Ilgaz, 2018). Additionally, females in leadership roles offer a unique perspective and skill set that helps business strategy and strengthens companies (Ilgaz, 2018). If you belong to your institution’s HR department and would like to empower women in the workplace, check out our tips to start empowering women today!
1. Examine Your Employee Leadership and Development Programs
- According to Harvard Business Review, firms often select employees for leadership training based on competencies and skills evaluations, but fail to consider potential (as cited in McGregor, 2017). This system fails to reach many promising leaders, especially promising females.
- These evaluations can be delivered to employees instantly through an online learning platform. Build content, administer evaluations, and view results on the same learning platform. Streamline the evaluation process.
- Women outscore men on traits such as curiosity, determination, and engagement that help predict successful skill development (McGregor, 2017). However, most organizations do not measure employees on these traits—so leadership training resources and promotions may not go to employees that are most deserving.
- We encourage you to take a holistic approach when evaluating employees for leadership training or promotion to managerial positions. A more holistic approach empowers women in the workplace. After all, an employee with high potential and fair skills and competencies will be more successful adapting to a new role than an employee with stronger skills and competencies and weak potential.
2. After Spotting Talent, Offer Informal/Natural Mentoring
- Natural mentoring fosters employee confidence in skill set and desire for promotion.
- Informal mentoring is more effective than a formal mentor who has little connection to the mentee. Mentor-mentee relationships are best developed over time naturally between senior-level and lower-level employees (ERC, 2013).
- Mentor-mentee relationships can be developed naturally through team building or other events that expose potential mentors to potential mentees. These events encourage new, effective collaborations between departments, and may even expose lower-level employees to more suitable areas within your organization that may ultimately lead to promotion or leadership roles.
- A learning platform can also connect mentors to mentees. Through a learning platform, mentors can deliver helpful educational resources to mentees.
- A learning platform can also aid in evaluating the effectiveness of these team building work events that bond employees and foster mentor-mentee relationships.
3. What Are Key Objectives of Trainings Aimed at Empowering Women in the Workplace?
- Developing Risk-Taking Skills. Leaders listen, and from this intake of information, challenge the status quo and provide new solutions (ERC, 2013). Unfortunately, in the professional realm, women are often discouraged from speaking up. Men may talk over them or belittle their suggestions. Additionally, a woman’s command of the room may lead people to believe she is “bossy” or “difficult.” This is challenging, as men who may command the room in the same way are likelier to be seen in a much more positive light. These negative stereotypes of women in the workplace must be brought to the attention of employees in trainings. Making staff aware of these unconscious or conscious biases, and teaching ways to correct poor behavior that results from these biases, will result in a better environment for working women. Check out these 11 recommended resources for anti-gender bias training: http://www.genderportal.eu/blog/11-recommended-resources-anti-gender-bias-training. Further, praising employees that take risks also fosters an environment that encourages and rewards speaking up. Risk-taking skills can also be developed by watching informational videos of men and women who have excelled in their careers. When women can visualize themselves in the shoes of another leader of the same gender—they are more likely to adopt the strategies to succeed. These inspirational videos can be provided to employees via a learning platform.
- Developing Time Priority, and Stress Management Skills. This includes showing employees the importance of sleep, mindfulness training, software functionalities vital to their job success, and the differences between urgent and important tasks (ERC, 2013). Women may already be feeling overloaded in their jobs if they are also largely responsible for childcare. Offering flexible work schedules and accommodations such as maternity benefits may lead women to see career advancement as a less daunting and more manageable option.
- Developing Personal Branding and Personal Empowerment. This can be done by identifying barriers to taking leadership roles, teaching language that is more assertive, developing a list of work goals, and developing an action plan to achieve those goals (ERC, 2013). Encourage women in the workplace to take on high visibility projects and to volunteer in the organization for greater exposure. Skills, competencies, and potential will be hard to ignore when presented in a wide variety of company activities. With business success also comes power to negotiate. In order to empower women in the workplace, it is vital to teach negotiation and assertiveness skills.
Bottom line: Empowering the talented women in your workplace creates a more diverse, productive organization. Choose to provide leadership trainings and development materials via an in-person outlet or eLearning platform, and watch your company reap the benefits in more ways than one!
ERC. (2013, April 3). Women & leadership: How to develop more female leaders. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.yourerc.com/blog/post/Women-Leadership-How-to-Develop-More-Female-Leaders.aspx
Ilgaz, Z. (2014, August 25). Lead like a girl: How to empower women at every level. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2014/08/25/lead-like-a-girl-how-to-empower-women-at-every-level/#564aa53c6714
McGregor, J. (2017, October 23). How most leadership training programs fail women. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/10/23/how-most-leadership-training-programs-fail-women/?utm_term=.e0a503907b2d
Shedtke. (2017, March 3). 11 recommended resources on anti-gender bias training. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.genderportal.eu/blog/11-recommended-resources-anti-gender-bias-training