5 Ways to Support the Advancement of Women Leaders in Your Organization
- Author: Meghan Stewart
Every segment of your workforce needs support to perform and have the best employee experience possible. Women leaders, whether new to leadership or seasoned executives, face unique challenges around work-life balance, gender bias, and other factors. But they can overcome these challenges when they have the resources and support to meet their needs. In this post, discover what your organization can do to help women leaders grow and have engaging and rewarding experiences at work.
How to Improve the Employee Experience for Women Leaders
Despite some gains in recent years, women remain underrepresented in company leadership roles. According to a McKinsey and Lean In study, women comprise nearly half of corporate entry-level roles, but fill only 32% of VP roles and 26% of C-Suite roles. And only 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. The reasons vary by organization, but they can include discrimination and bias, a lack of flexibility, and a poor understanding of what women need to navigate the challenges of modern leadership.
Supporting the women leaders in your organization boosts their performance, work-life balance, and sense of belonging, ultimately helping you retain them and put them in a position to help other women who aspire to leadership. Here are five ways to make it happen:
1. Offer flexible work options
It’s no secret work flexibility is at the top of most employees’ lists when it comes to helping them become more productive and engaged at work. But for many women, it’s not just a preference; it’s a necessity. Whether they have young children or provide care for an aging parent, working women are more likely to have family caregiving responsibilities. For every man, there are eight women to have their employment affected by caregiver responsibilities. As a result, they require flexibility to balance the demands of work and life, including having more autonomy in deciding when and where they work.
2. Identify and correct gender pay gaps
When controlling for differences in job characteristics, experience, and qualifications, executive women earn 95% of what executive men earn, according to Payscale and Forbes Advisor. Any discrepancy, no matter how small, not only stands in the way of realizing company goals for a fair and equitable culture, but it can also cause women leaders to leave for better pay elsewhere. To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to identify pay gaps and communicate what the organization is doing to close the gaps and boost pay transparency.
3. Take action against discrimination and bias
Gender bias can make it harder for women to get fair access to pay, promotions, and respectful treatment from their team and peers. Whether subtle or overt, bias only makes it harder for women leaders to perform in an already-challenging work environment. A recent study identified 30 different characteristics, including body size, parental status, and attractiveness, for which women leaders are criticized more than their male counterparts. To eliminate bias from your culture, acknowledge it exists and show employees how to identify it and prevent it from interfering with their behavior at work.
4. Shine a spotlight on women leaders
It’s not uncommon for people to imagine men when they think about leaders. But you can change that by telling the stories of women leaders in your organization and featuring them prominently in your employer branding. In doing so, you’re not just showing your customers, employees, and other stakeholders what a leader looks like in your organization; you’re also inspiring women at other levels to aspire to a leadership role and see it’s not just possible, but also celebrated.
5. Ask women leaders what they need
One of the best ways to understand and address the needs of women leaders in your organization is to ask. Through surveys, regular one-on-one discussions, and stay interviews, ask questions to help you identify which aspects of the employee experience are the biggest pain points for the women in your organization, and how you can make the most impactful improvements to support their career growth. With their feedback, you can develop more targeted solutions, including leadership training, mentorship, and networking opportunities that help women connect to others who can guide and support their career growth.
Develop Stronger Women Leaders
Building an inclusive culture that addresses the needs of all employees is critical to any organization’s success. When you demonstrate a commitment to meeting the unique needs of the women in your workforce, you can help them grow into more effective and engaged leaders, and the whole organization benefits.
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