Diversity without inclusion is like a car without wheels: it will never gain momentum and will fail to achieve its goal. Quite simply, it won’t work.
You need an inclusive workplace to support your diverse team. This helps all team members feel a sense of belonging at your organization, leading to higher engagement, productivity, and retention. When your team members can bring their authentic selves to work, they can use their unique backgrounds and experiences to help your organization truly innovate.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we (virtually) gathered a few colleagues and partners and asked, “How can we make the workplace more inclusive for women?” Here’s what they had to say:
Begin with your data
Jennie Yang, VP, People & Culture at 15Five, suggests leveraging your internal data to understand the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at your organization. She shares, “Use demographic data from your HRIS and pair it with other people-related data points to identify gender gaps in representation, recruiting, retention, engagement, advancement/promotion, and compensation."
Then, make a commitment to close those gaps. Ensure that there is breadth and depth of education in each of these areas to mitigate biases, and audit processes to ensure fairness, inclusion, equity, and objectiveness.
Close gender pay gaps
Women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, resulting in an average loss of $10,122 over the course of a year. Women of color fare much worse, with Black women earning 63 cents, and Latinas earning 55 cents, for every dollar a White man earns.
Tilly Martin, Head of Customer Support at Kallidus, shares, “Whether intentional or not, this can be a deal breaker if women don’t feel they are being treated equally. It’s crucial to provide equal pay for equal output.”
Review your benefits package
Tilly also suggests reviewing your benefits package to ensure it is inclusive and attractive to a diverse group of people.
An inclusive benefits package may include:
- Student loan repayment programs: Women have an average student loan debt that is 10 percent higher than their male peers one year after graduation, and take an additional two years on average to pay it off. A repayment program may have more benefit and appeal to women.
- Mental health care: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of people suffering from anxiety are women. Including mental health care coverage in your benefits package can contribute to their holistic wellness.
- Paid parental leave: Parental leave is, of course, important for all parents. But pregnancy, childbirth, and chestfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding. Adequate parental leave ensures women have the time they need to recover, and to bond with their child.
- Childcare benefits: Women typically handle more child rearing responsibilities than men. In fact, women ages 25-44 were almost three times as likely as men not to be working due to childcare demands at the start of the pandemic. Benefits such as childcare flexible savings accounts, onsite childcare, subsidized child care, and backup care can support working mothers.
Provide flexible working hours
Focus on output, rather than hours worked. Stephanie Thomas, Head of Customer Success at Sapling shares, “Ensure employees know that they have the opportunity to step away from work when needed for things like childcare, wellness breaks, and doctors appointments. This signals to your team that you trust them to get their work done, and gives them the flexibility to take care of themselves and their families.”
Flexible hours can ensure greater work-life balance, as team members work when they’re able to be their most productive, and take personal time as needed.
Ask women for their perspectives
Working on an idea? Seek out feedback from women from different communities, or with different backgrounds and experiences. Phylicia Jones, Director, Global Talent Development at PagerDuty explains, “It is these perspectives that might help you catch something that you didn’t notice before, and take your idea to the next level.”
Involvement can also help women feel valued in the workplace, and give them the confidence to speak up more often. It is through this participation that companies can truly innovate, and realize the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Final thoughts on building a more inclusive workplace for women
Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be considered an ongoing initiative, in which there is always room for improvement. Stay on top of your internal data, and gather feedback via surveys and employee resource groups, so you can find opportunities to do better. This can help you build a reputation as an employer of choice, so you can attract and retain the diverse talent you need to stay relevant in an ever changing world.