Empowering Women in Your Workplace: A How-To Guide
We’ve made some major strides, us women. We have gone from literally being property and having no voting rights to having a legitimate shot at U.S. presidency and holding down about 20 percent of Congress. That, my friends, is progress. Unless you’ve been living under an actual rock, the likelihood of having been exposed to the reality that feminism is becoming a reasonably agreeable and acceptable ideology is highly likely. It appears that large populations are down with women being equals — and hey, that’s pretty cool and sensible in my book.
But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let’s take a pause. Yes, we’ve made progress, but there remains plenty of room for growth. We may not be living in the Mad Men days per se, but there are a few logical ways to empower the women in your workplace (and beyond). Plus, as a bonus, a happy workplace equals a happier bottom line.
1. Quit referring women as “girls, gals, sweetie, honey”
Listen, no matter how lovely the intention, women don’t really want nor do they enjoy being referred to as “sweetie” or any other adorable term of endearment. These are your female peers, not a gaggle of grade-school girls. Keep it professional, folks. After all, how common is it to hear a woman referring to her male colleague as “boy” or “squirt”. A woman’s actual name suffices just fine.
2. Make sure women are receiving equal pay for their experience and position
I know we’ve gone over this time and time again, and while plenty of organizations are paying their employees equally, the gender pay gap is still a very real thing. The current statistics lend themselves to much room for improvement. White women are currently earning $0.79 to every $1.00 that a white man earns — mind you this is for the same position. The gap is far broader for women of color. African-American women are making $0.62, and Hispanic women are earning $0.54 to every dollar.
3. Realize that women in upper management and executive positions are a really good thing
If you’re on the fence (for whatever reason) about whether or not to hire or promote a woman into an upper-management or executive position, do it. According to Harvard Business Review, a good leader is comprised of their abilities surrounding “initiative, developing others, inspiring and motivating, and pursuing their own development.” Even though women are thought to be more nurturing and less impulsive than their male counterparts, they actually scored higher than men in 12 of the 16 core competencies that determine good leadership — indicating that they are well-suited for the heavy hitting duties that come with the big jobs.
4. Provide legit parental leave
There are no big surprises that America is lagging in the parental leave department. If I must get specific, we came in dead last out of 41 other countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That does not mean there are not outliers like Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook (among others). Parental leave defies gender roles, as it should. Providing women and men with adequate paid parental leave empowers everyone!
5. Don’t squirrel women away
Women have a lot of really great things to say and do, which is all the more reason to do your organization a favor and make sure you allow female employees to speak to the masses. Not only is public speaking proven to be a career booster, but women are also just as capable of articulating information as men. Women make up half (HALF!) the population. If you are not engaging women in your workplace, you could be missing out on huge benefits and customer bases. That’s money from which you are just walking away. Hire, promote, and listen to the women in your workspace. Everyone will be happier.
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