Diversity in the Workplace: Promoting Women’s Equality

Women’s equality has been slowly improving since 1965 when the EEOC was created and it became illegal to treat women differently at work. A diverse workplace has consistently been shown to be more productive and profitable.

Steps that can promote equality in the workplace include:

  • Reframe female equality as a business issue and acknowledge it’s a legal issue. Women’s equality isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s required by law, and diverse work environments increase productivity. McKinsey & Co. found that diverse companies are more likely to have higher financial returns than non-diverse ones.
  • Provide diversity training, including discussing the impact of stereotypes on behavior. Tori Brescoll found that stereotypes and preconceptions held by both men and women are barriers to women’s advancement.
  • Recognize that encouraging people to do the right thing or sensitivity training alone do not change behavior. Follow-up with behavioral expectations for change.
  • Acknowledge and reward different leadership styles. Men are generally comfortable with hierarchy and tend to promote themselves. Women lead in collaborative ways, and hence do not stand out as individual leaders (Deborah Tannen). In addition to individual achievements, reward group accomplishments.
  • Provide women’s leadership training. Over and above general leadership training, women’s leadership training can build leadership skills to complement common behavioral tendencies exhibited by women. Male participation could increase awareness about same.
  • Move from formal mentorship to sponsorship programs. Mentorship enables women to succeed. Sponsorship provides concrete opportunities for growth.
  • Evaluate HR benefits to review effectiveness and identify ways to expand the offerings. For example, encourage managers to create flexible work arrangements for everyone that meet business needs and increase employee engagement.
  • Create objective standards for promotion. Promotion criteria should be transparent and communicated to employees.

Approaching female equality in assorted ways should create a diverse workplace that will allow your organization, and your employees and leaders, to thrive…

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