Championing women in the workplace is so important for building more diverse, inclusive and successful organizations. Organizations that have more women in senior roles are more profitable, more innovative and more socially responsible. The challenge for many organizations is how to increase the representation of women in all areas of leadership.
We believe the solution is two-fold. How can organizations: 1) Simultaneously develop the essential skills, experiences, relationships and capabilities in women to prepare them to lead, AND 2) Grow the organization sufficiently to support them?
Here are some ways to support both goals listed above:
1. Offer mentorship and sponsorship programs.
Mentorship and sponsorship programs can help women develop their skills and advance their careers. Organizations can provide opportunities for women to connect with mentors and sponsors who can provide guidance, support and advocacy.
2. Create women-specific development programs.
Organizations can support women in identifying appropriate career pathways and provide them with opportunities to develop their leadership skills. This includes ensuring that women are considered for leadership positions and providing leadership training and development programs that address the unique challenges women face in leadership roles.
3. Encourage networking and collaboration.
Organizations can encourage women to network and collaborate with senior organizational leaders. This can provide support and guidance, foster professional relationships, and increase the visibility and influence of women in the organization.
4. Create a culture of inclusion.
Organizations can create a culture of inclusivity by promoting diversity and inclusion and making it clear that all employees are valued and respected. This includes setting diversity goals, establishing inclusive policies and practices, and providing training and education on how to lead with an eye toward inclusion, identifying managerial biases, and self-awareness.
5. Provide flexibility.
We recently conducted a survey of employee needs in the workplace and found that lifestyle was the top need of women in the workplace. Providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flexible schedules and job sharing, can help women balance their work and personal responsibilities.
6. Grow manager capability.
Organizations that invest in manager development are more likely to be viewed as inclusive workplaces, with leaders who are better equipped to support the growth of their employees.
Championing women in the workplace is critical for building diverse and inclusive organizations. By taking these steps, organizations can build a more diverse, inclusive and successful workforce.