May 13th 2021

Diversity and inclusion: How to empower women in the workplace

When it comes to women in the workplace, it would be wonderful to think that in this day and age the concept of having a female boss was no more extraordinary than that of having a male one, yet all you have to do is look at the statistics to see this just isn’t the case.

And while things are getting better, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Simply getting women into the workplace isn’t enough. To help women to grow in their careers as well as reap the benefits of gender diversity, you need to focus on female empowerment; it’s about inclusivity and equality as well as diversity in the workplace. Here are a few ways your business can work towards true employee empowerment. 

Tips to empower women in the workplace 

Be aware of bias 

Take a step back and look at the way your organisation approaches the delegation of projects or whether you have outdated ideas about what is men’s and women’s work. Without realising it, men are often chosen for projects and roles based on potential, whereas women for their experience. Unconscious bias exists in every business. So take the time to be aware of it and take action to try and offer equal opportunities. Give women the chance to prove themselves through projects, even if they don’t have the experience, and you will be giving them the chance to grow. 

Let female voices be heard 

This sounds so simple, but it’s something that so many businesses fail to do. You can easily change this through these four actions: 

  • Start by allowing women in your workforce a heard voice at the table. If a female employee has a great idea, champion her and make sure she gets the recognition so she knows she is valued. 
  • Provide situations where female employees have the opportunity to stand up and speak, both internally and externally. This will give them the stage to really shine and grow with confidence. 
  • Invite inspirational women to come in and give talks for all employees to attend. This will not only be motivational for the women in your workforce but will also instil respect for powerful women in all employees. 
  • When there is the opportunity to either participate on a panel or hold your own panel event, only do so if there are both men and women involved. Gender equality in the workplace brings a range of ideas and thoughts to the table, as well as giving women the chance to say their piece. 

Promote flexible working 

Flexible working allows employees to find a balance between their work and home lives. And let’s be honest – sitting at a desk nine until five is not an indicator of productivity and yet it is used as an indicator. Instead, time spent working should be valued on quality over quantity. This mindset will greatly benefit women workers as they often have other responsibilities, such as childcare, that they have to factor into their lives. This is evident in a study that showed women made up the majority of part-time employment at 38%, compared to that of men at 13%. 

According to the Fawcett Society report, “Post-pandemic, we need to move to a new normal which allows workers to adopt a hybrid model of home and workplace flexibility as well as flexing their working hours”.

This will allow women to balance their other responsibilities with a full-time career, giving them the opportunity to continue to grow instead of falling behind. 

Equal wages for equal work

When it comes to equal pay, women are still earning less than men on average. The data shows that the average weekly pay for female full-time employees was £543 in April 2020. This compared to £619 for male full-time employees. When women feel like they are being cheated out of fair pay, they don’t feel valued at work, and the chance for them to progress decreases with their engagement. One easy way for you to change this and offer gender equality in the workplace is to take a deep dive into how you pay your employees. Look for inequality and make sure that all employees are paid the same if they have the same experience in a similar role. Gender or race should not matter. 

Diversify your leadership 

According to research, only 3.2% of held CEO roles in FTSE 250 are women. Women deserve to have the same shot as men at climbing the career ladder right to the top. And you, as a business, can focus on helping them get there in these three ways: 

  • Make sure that high-achieving women in your workplace are recognised on equal footing with everyone in the business. They should be factored into your ongoing conversations about advancement opportunities, making clear what they need to do to get promoted. 
  • Encourage women across your business to pursue opportunities for advancement, empowering them to feel that they have the skills to aim high and achieve those goals. 
  • Open up your talent pipelines equally to all employees at all levels to recruit for a diverse workplace. Looking to hire a manager? Then be sure to approach hiring for the position with a gender-equal mindset, bringing in women at the top. 

Celebrate individual strengths 

Lastly, accept that every woman is different and has their own individual strengths. Let your employees know that you value their different qualities and skills. Don’t expect them to adhere to a stereotypical idea of femininity, but also don’t hold them back if they do. You should embrace that every woman has their own story to tell and empower them to do so. This will help create an inclusive workplace culture

This goes hand in hand with also celebrating accomplishments. You never grow out of the need to be praised, and you should be sure to give credit where credit is due. Help your fellow female colleagues get recognised for the things they are particularly skilled at and share their accomplishments far and wide. This will give your female employees the confidence to keep aiming higher and higher. 

Gender diversity is just one part of ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace. It is on the rise but still has a long way to go. It is on the onus of all businesses to help improve the situation by empowering women in the workplace. This is not only for the benefit of your employees’ happiness at work but also for your business as a whole. With diversity comes innovation, and with innovation comes success. So by empowering women throughout your business you will increase employee retention, maintain diversity and give yourself a competitive edge.