3 ways to celebrate & support women at work
More than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was enacted in the UK, despite making some inroads, we are still fighting for gender equity in the workplace. The gender pay gap continues to expand, and the Covid-19 pandemic had a disproportionate effect on working women. Women hold only 25% of the five main C-suite positions – meaning 75% of leaders responsible for bettering the workplace for all are men. In addition, Workhuman’s recent Human Workplace Index found that 28% of respondents believe women are treated differently, with the women surveyed saying they are acknowledged less (46%) and promoted less (31%) in comparison to their male counterparts.
And while strides have been made to rectify the gender equity problem in the workplace – thanks to celebrations like Women’s History Month and organisations like Women in Stem and Girls Who Code – and will certainly continue, there is still work to be done and much to learn.
There are things that organisations can do right now to begin building a better workplace for women; below are three ways to support and celebrate them today:
1.Check in on a regular basis
In the current climate of hybrid and remote working, yearly annual reviews are no longer effective in reviewing performance, and certainly not in helping women reach their potential and climb through the ranks. Instead, it’s important to maintain regular communications and informal check-ins. By allowing all employees more frequent opportunities to speak to their managers, you help develop higher levels of purpose, respect, and engagement.
Indeed, Workhuman’s research into the Great Resignation found that weekly conversations are important for employees’ perceptions of their value and role in the company overall. For example, when workers have weekly check-ins, they are more than 2x as likely to see a path to grow in the organisation and feel a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose at work.
2.Show some appreciation
All employees want to be appreciated and respected for the work that they do. According to Workhuman’s Two Years into COVID: The State of Human Connection at Work report, when people were thanked in the last month, they’re half as likely to be looking for a new job, more than 2x as likely to be highly engaged and to feel respected at work, and more than 3x as likely to see a path to grow in the organisation. In addition, the more recently someone has been thanked by a manager and/or peer, the greater their sense of connection to the company culture and their colleagues.
In today’s hybrid environment, ensuring employees feel connected is crucial. By encouraging co-workers to recognise each other’s work – through a social recognition programme, for example – and show gratitude and humanity to each other in the workplace, not only will the bonds of trust across the whole company be strengthened, no matter where people are working from, but managers and leaders will also have more datapoints on which to base their considerations for a pay raise or promotion. This helps ensure that all employees, including women, are regarded with a well-rounded, holistic approach to their career progression.
In addition, by including analytical tools that use AI to identify words or phrases that may be perceived as bias in a recognition message and provide real-time coaching for improving the message, all employees can learn how they can better celebrate all employees in the workplace in a respectful and unbiased way.
3.Create a psychologically safe workplace
Harvard professor Amy Edmondson defines psychological safety as “a shared belief that I can bring my full self to work, that I will not be humiliated or made to feel less good about myself if I speak up with ideas, with questions, with concerns, and yes, even with mistakes.”
In short, being psychologically safe at work means being able to be ourselves completely, without fear of recrimination. When people feel safe enough to be their most authentic selves at work – even in a hybrid environment – they are more likely to be engaged, productive and happy at work. Yet a Workhuman survey into psychological safety revealed that men experience higher psychological safety than women and that working parents have lower psychological safety compared to nonworking parents.
Imagine what work would look like if all employees felt more comfortable, confident and safe in their ability to share ideas and contribute to the success of your organisation. Gallup found that organisations that move towards creating psychological safety for their employees see a 27% reduction in employee turnover, 40% reduction in safety incidents and a 12% increase in productivity
So, it is vital that everyone feels respected, welcome and included in the workplace.
For women, this can be done, for example, by creating programmes to develop future leaders. By identifying aspiring female leaders – through regular check-ins or peer-to-peer recognition – and matching them with coaches and mentors, these women are provided tangible development opportunities to help progress their career. It also builds stronger bonds of trust between employees across all levels, helping create cognisance and promote change for everyone.
Great strides have been made to make the workplace more equitable, but we can all do better to ensure respect and inclusion for all. Indeed, if organisations want employees to do their best work, employers must do their best work for them too, and this starts by making the workplace – whether it’s in person, virtual or hybrid – a place where everyone feels welcome, has purpose and can be their authentic selves.
As senior vice president of Global Human Experience, Niamh is responsible for people and culture globally at Workhuman, empowering a people-first workplace, a culture of positivity, and respect for all.