The #metoo movement has brought the issues of sexual harassment and gender equality in the workplace to light. As a part of the Millennium Development Goals, gender equality is receiving international attention on a scale that many women never thought possible just decades ago. Many companies are now working diligently to make sure that they are adequately addressing these important issues and creating workplaces that are safe and respectful of all employees. The next step is making sure that all employees have the same access to opportunities for advancement and professional development.
1. Increase Awareness
Find ways for your employees to connect with the gender equality movement on a grander scale. One of the ways you can do this is to support causes, such as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in November. This will hopefully stimulate conversations among employees and their supervisors about the challenges that women still face in all aspects of life. Honest and open dialogue about the problems that still exist for many women around the world can encourage a culture of understanding and collaboration.
2. Encourage Mentorship
Mentorship plays a significant role in how quickly women advance in their careers. Establish a mentorship program so that women who want to participate can be paired with more senior employees. They will have a connection with someone in a position of authority so that they can feel more empowered to express their concerns about issues in the workplace. They will also gain an advocate to help champion their cause of advancing in the company and someone more seasoned to provide advice on how to handle challenging situations or improve their performance. Mentors do not necessarily have to be female employees, but they do have to be senior employees who are willing to put in the extra time and effort to help their colleagues.
3. Create an Open Forum
There should be a clear company policy in place for how any employee can report a situation of gender discrimination in the workplace. All employees should be educated on the available channels to speak with senior management about any issues that may arise in the workplace related to gender equality. This should be common knowledge throughout the company, and all employees should be made to feel at ease that they will not face any sort of retaliation from their employer or supervisors for speaking out about a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. All managers should receive intense training on how to properly report and handle situations involving a female employee who is the target of discrimination in the workplace.
4. Provide Support for Working Mothers
One of the most easily identifiable ways that women are the victims of discrimination in the workplace is in dealing with their parenting needs. Speak with the female employees at your company to find out what types of accommodations would make their careers more compatible with raising children. Companies lose out on great talent and experienced employees when their policies make it such that working mothers feel like they cannot adequately parent and do their jobs at the same time. Having an open forum for these types of discussions can be a way to promote out-of-the-box thinking on ways to solve this problem. When a company invests in its female employees, it does not have to spend as much time and money in recruiting and training new hires to take their place after maternity leave. If your company already offers a generous maternity leave policy, think about ways that you could make child care more accessible and less expensive for mothers returning to the workplace. Your rates of absenteeism will go down, and your employees will be much more productive when they are at work. Your company will also gain a reputation of being accommodating and flexible for working parents, which will make it attractive to new recruits.