Beyond the Hashtags: How Companies Can Truly Support Women's Day?
As reported by CBS News, about 3 million women quit their jobs between early 2020 and early 2021, when the Coronavirus pandemic began. Report says that many women, particularly mothers of young children, have been made redundant or laid off. A Deloitte Women at Work 2022 report states that these women are reentering the workforce much slower. It is expensive for women to provide childcare, care for their families, and juggle all this with work, which leads to burnout. Indeed, it has been a rollercoaster ride for the women who have managed to stay in the workforce.
It goes without saying that women play a crucial part in the modern workplace. They are more accepting and sympathetic. Taking on C-suite roles, they help their teammates advance in their careers while reducing gender discrimination. But that isn't what women are experiencing. They face a wide range of workplace challenges, such as the gender pay gap, lack of career development opportunities , discrimination and harassment, poor support etc.
Undoubtedly, International Women's Day is a time for companies to reflect on the progress made towards gender equality and commit to taking action to empower women. However, for many organizations, Women's Day has become little more than a social media post and a fleeting gesture of support. Simply using a hashtag in a tweet or changing the color of your logo is insufficient. It's important for companies to take proactive measures to address these issues and create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture for women.
In this blogpost we will look at the top challenges faced by women in the workplace and some concrete ways organizations can overcome these challenges and support women's empowerment on International Women's Day and beyond.
Common Challenges Faced by Women in the Workplace
- Gender Pay Gap
Unfortunately, the gender pay gap is one of the most critical issues facing women in the workplace. Women earn less than men on average, even when they do the same job. According to Pew Research Center, the gender pay gap in the United States continues to exist despite mitigation efforts, with women earning 84% of what men earn. This happens due to various reasons such as occupational segregation, biased employee hiring and promotion, and discrimination.
As a result of this pay gap, female employees' productivity, engagement, and retention rates suffer, as well as their organizations. Furthermore, women cannot research equitable pay and are less equipped to advocate for themselves when applying for a promotion or raise due to a lack of salary transparency.
- Lack of Personalized Employee Support
Lack of personalized support for women employees can significantly affect their productivity and engagement. Employees who do not receive adequate support at work may experience adverse effects reflecting their ability to perform their job effectively.
For example, poor support can leave women employees to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can negatively impact their mental health and overall well-being. This can lead to decreased motivation, lack of focus, and difficulty completing tasks.
On the other hand, women employees who feel unsupported may be more likely to take time off work due to stress or other mental health concerns. This can lead to a drop in employee productivity and business ROI.
- Experiencing Burnouts
Compared to men, women experience higher rates of burnout. A Mckinsey report says that one in three women considered leaving the workforce or downsizing their career. The unacknowledged, unpaid tasks that women perform in the workplace, such as following up with coworkers and providing emotional support, frequently lead to burnout. Balancing work obligations with housework and caregiving responsibilities is another cause of burnout.
- Work-life Balance Issues
Lack of work-life balance is another prominent issue that working women encounter. Of course, juggling work and personal life is a challenge for everyone. During COVID-19, employees who worked from home reported that they could not switch off and maintain boundaries with their work. This workplace imbalance hampered working women's abilities to advance in their careers and roles and led to severe burnout due to the pressure they were under.
- Stereotyping and Bias
Women employees may experience bias and stereotyping at workplace, including presumptions about their skills and competence based on their gender. This may affect their chances for advancement in their careers and for promotions.
- Sexual Harassment
The prevalence of sexism and harassment at work has increased recently as more women have had the guts to speak out about their harrowing encounters. The phenomenal #MeToo#MeToo#MeToo#MeToo movement reveals how pervasive sexual violence, abuse, and harassment are outside the home and workplace. Multiple forms of sexual harassment can occur at work, including comments about the body, appearance or clothing of others, as well as unwelcome physical advances and other nonverbal actions that create a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment.
Sexual harassment can cause emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and a sense of powerlessness. This can affect a woman's self-esteem, confidence, and ability to perform her job effectively. Moreover, women who experience sexual harassment may feel uncomfortable or fearful in their organization, which can impact their job satisfaction and lead to reduced productivity.
Effective Strategies To Support Women In The Workplace
Despite progress towards gender equality, it is sad that women still face a range of challenges and issues in the workplace. Let’s look at some effective ways that organizations can go beyond the hashtags and truly support their women employees.
- Create A Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Culture
Inorrder to support the women employees, organizations and businesses must foster a culture of inclusion that values and celebrates diversity. This entails establishing an environment at work where everyone—regardless of gender—feels valued and respected. Companies should implement diversity and inclusion training programs, establish diversity objectives, and develop a welcoming workplace culture .
- Ensure Flexible Work
One of the biggest barriers that women face in the modern workplace is balancing work with family responsibilities. Flexible working arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, can help women employees to balance their work and personal life and responsibilities. This is especially critical for women with children or other caregiving responsibilities.
- Provide Mentorship and Career Development Opportunities
Mentorship and career development opportunities can be powerful tools for women's empowerment. Companies should provide mentoring programs, training and development opportunities, and networking events to help women advance in their careers. By investing in women's professional development , companies can help to close the gender gap in leadership positions.
- Implement Fair Hiring and Promotion Practices
Fair hiring and promotion practices are essential for gender equality in the workplace. Organizations should implement blind hiring processes, which remove gender and other identifying information from job applications, and review promotion processes to ensure they are fair and equitable. By creating a level playing field for all employees, companies can promote gender equality and diversity in their workforce.
- Provide Equal Pay and Opportunities
Another major issue facing women is the gender pay gap. Women still earn less than men for doing the same job and are underrepresented in leadership positions. Companies can support women by ensuring that they provide equal pay for equal work and promote women into leadership positions. This can be achieved by conducting regular pay audits and implementing policies that promote diversity and inclusion.
There is no doubt, corporate companies must take effective strategies to support women's empowerment on International Women's Day and beyond. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, offering flexible working arrangements, providing mentorship and career development opportunities, etc are just some of the ways organizations can support gender equality in their workplaces.