On August 26, we’re celebrating Women’s Equality Day. Over 101 years ago, on this exact day, the 19th Amendment was passed, ensuring the constitutional right for women to vote and participate in government. After years of grassroots organizing, the Women’s Suffrage Movement finally won the right to vote, expanding access to political power for all women.
Over the century, this triumph has had exponential impact as more and more women enter leadership and management roles in ever level of society. Yet despite the increasing importance of including women in top-level decision-making, structural problems like pay gaps coupled with the impact of the pandemic are setting women back more than ever. A study by McKinsey estimates that the consequences could set women’s progress back by a whole decade.
We’ve listed down five ways that companies can encourage and help women take on more leadership roles.
Close structural gaps in the organization and make your company more welcoming to women.
Companies benefit from having women at the management level. In 2019, a study by the International Labor Organization highlighted the positive impact of women’s inclusion in leadership roles on the company’s bottom line. But achieving gender equality is not just about hitting diversity quotas and expecting a windfall in the next quarter. For women to be successfully included in any given organization, companies have to make space for them. For example, during the pandemic, McKinsey noted that women were three times more likely to do the housework and childrearing, oftentimes leaving them burnt out. Companies have to be conscious of the reality around many women’s lives and close structural gaps that they’re at risk of falling through. Companies have to earn diversity, not just hire it. The task of promoting women into management and leadership roles requires providing structural changes to help women get there.
Encourage and invite women to make important policies and decisions for the company.
Women in management and leadership roles are important for improving business longevity. They play a huge role in building relationships. They’re much more capable of improving teamwork and encouraging people to collaborate with one another. According to Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger, the new service economy rely heavily on skills women’s natural abilities for long-term strategic vision and community building. In order to create an environment where people thrive holistically, companies need to invite women to shape their policies. Encourage women on your team to get involved in building teams, strengthening relationships, developing training programs, and ensuring business posterity.
Aim for an intersectional diversity that encourages women of all color and backgrounds to participate.
It’s one thing to be a woman facing barriers to progress in modern-day corporate culture. But it’s a whole different thing to be black, hispanic, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ, or a person with disabilities. It’s not enough that companies compensate for one area of inequality by, say, focusing on hiring more women. When in reality people are bringing in more than just one facet of their identity to the workplace. For example, black women face more barriers to career advancement. During the height of the pandemic, they also faced a greater risk of “health and economic disruption”. Genuine equality is a much more complex project. And, in response, companies should aim for intersectional diversity and pay attention to the way the needs and experiences of their employees overlap. Efforts to improve equality should find the balance between inclusivity and diversity.
Make it easier for women to negotiate their salary and empower their position in the company.
Pay your women right! According to Forbes, the pay gap has been shrinking. But at the rate that it’s going, analysts believe it’s still going to be an issue by the year 2059. Women have a harder time negotiating their salaries. Less than 30% of women negotiate the initial offer they receive. And in cases where they do negotiate for a higher salary, they lose the favor of their potential employers. Moreover, when it comes to promotion, for every 100 men who get promoted, only 85 women receive the same honor. Companies need to examine how they can rectify these trends in their own organizational spaces. Women in management and leadership roles don’t emerge out of a vacuum. It takes concerted effort to uproot the barriers to progress and make sure that women receive fair compensation to succeed in the corporate world.
Provide women pathways for self-improvement.
At Staff Street, we believe firmly in investing in training opportunities for the women in your team. If you genuinely want to empower women and bridge gaps, provide pathways. Naturally, investing in the growth of your team has exponential payoffs. Training opportunities keep your team looped into and updated with new and exciting ways of doing things. It also helps them create networks that can be beneficial for their job. Furthermore, you’re helping the women on your team gain the competency and the confidence to make good decisions for the business. Setting up women for managerial and leadership roles takes concerted and conscious effort. There is no limit in the number of ways that you can make the world a better place, starting with the people within your circle of influence.