Today marks International Women’s Day, a day where we’re all encouraged to come together and find new ways to help forge a better working world that’s more inclusive and gender equal. While the last 50 years have seen a dramatic shift in traditional family roles – with women in a stronger position than ever to lead, shape and transform the economic, social and political landscape – just 6% of CEO positions are held by women in the world’s top 500 businesses today. It’s never been as important than now to tackle this imbalance head on. Here, I offer advice for both employers and employees who are looking to address gender inequality in the workplace.
For leaders looking to attract and retain female talent as part of a diverse and innovative workforce…
- Challenge girls’ perceptions of IT careers – This can help to encourage female students to study ICT at a higher level at school and at degree level.
- Partner with universities – This can help employers to ensure a steady stream of female graduates entering the business
- Maintain objective and inclusive recruitment criteria and promotion processes – Adopting diverse CV reviewing and interview panels for instance, will help to identify and stamp out unconscious bias
- Scope out female networking opportunities and introduce reverse mentoring schemes – This can help employers to challenge preconceptions and enable women to make the connections they need to rise up the ranks
For female workers looking to progress and forge successful careers…
- Take inspiration from the top – According to a study from McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org, both male and female employees recognize that face time with leaders and informal feedback are important factors to getting ahead. Some enterprises, such as Amex, have rolled out executive shadow programs to give high-potential individuals more access to top leadership within the company
- Gain a voice and visibility – Meetings often present opportunities for greater interaction and visibility, so women should push themselves forward and let their voice be heard. SAP recently introduced an initiative designed to instill confidence in high-performing women. Tasked with making on-camera presentations and expanding their networks, participants on the course are encouraged to speak up, increase their appetite for taking risks and be more visible in the company as a result
- Practice self-investment and curiosity: Female workers should take every opportunity to continuously learn and be curious about everything – reading as much as they can. Having a strong sense of self can determine what key motivators are and what they want to get out of their career.
Conversations around gender equality are becoming all the more important in the context of what’s taking place in the workplace; and this is no more apparent than on International Women’s Day today. By taking these types of approaches, business leaders can ensure they’re achieving maximum potential from their workforce, creating a positive environment for learning and challenging, while attracting and retaining the dynamic talent needed to innovate. At the same, by equipping themselves with the rights tools, skills and experiences, female employees can confidently progress at their own pace and shape their careers as they want.