International Women’s Day is a time to recognize and celebrate women’s accomplishments and achievements. It’s a day to raise awareness about discrimination, a reminder of the importance of diversity and differences at work. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity, discussing how equality and equity are two very different things and “why equal opportunities are not enough.”
It’s time to take meaningful actions to improve women’s lives in your organization, not only for International Women’s Day but all year.
1. Support a work-life balance: According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, 96% of women who have children say that a flexible work arrangement is important, as compared to 47% of men.
Strategy: Provide flexible working hours and remote work options that enable women to balance their work and personal responsibilities. Work-from-home options are especially important for women with disabilities. Implement paid family leave policies. Consider creating a returnship program for women who are returning to work after taking time off to care for children or loved ones. Stagger meetings to begin later in the morning, earlier in the afternoons.
2. Address gender pay gaps: According to a report by the National Women's Law Center and PEW, women earn only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, resulting in a gender wage gap of 18%.
Strategy: Conduct regular pay audits to ensure that female employees are paid equitably for the same work as their male colleagues. Beware of the gap-year bias, unfairly punishing women for taking time off to take care of children or loved ones, leaving them playing catch-up to make the same amount as their male peers. Recruit caregivers, mothers, and women who have taken time from the world of work to take care of family. Provide meaningful healthcare benefits for women, including annual pap smears, mammograms, reproductive healthcare, mental healthcare, and financial health programs.
3. Provide leadership and mentorship opportunities: McKinsey and Company’s 2022 report, Women In the Workplace, highlights the challenges women face in business. They report, though, that companies with more women in leadership positions tend to perform better than those with fewer women in leadership roles.
Strategy: Offer mentorship programs that pair women with senior leaders in the organization who can provide guidance, support, and career advice. Create opportunities for women to lead projects and teams. Invest in your employees’ talent and provide training and development programs to help them develop their leadership skills.
4. Create a culture of inclusivity and diversity: Deloitte reports that companies with inclusive cultures are more likely to have high-performing teams and innovative business strategies.
Strategy: Take a DEI survey to identify strengths and weaknesses of your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment and ensure that all employees are trained to recognize and report such behaviors. Improve employee engagement and increase diversity with meaningful actions .
Remember equity isn’t the same as equality, and women’s and men’s needs within the same organization can be very different. Addressing those needs and prioritizing the well-being and career advancement female employees isn’t only the right thing to do, but also the business-smart thing to do. Organizations that do so statistically have shown to have higher levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.
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