Vice President Global HR Workhuman
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Awareness: propelling women into leadership roles

6th Mar 2020
Vice President Global HR Workhuman
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International Women’s Day (IWD), which falls on the 8th March, celebrates women in every aspect of their lives, from the schoolyard to the boardroom, and encourages everyone worldwide to recognise the powerful impact women have on communities and businesses. This year’s theme for IWD, #EachforEqual, also highlights the importance of gender equality in the workplace and why having more women in decision-making roles is a real business issue.

Women have long fought the battle for equality in the workplace, and even in 2020 the disparities between working men and women are still very clear, none more so than in senior management roles. Indeed, Catalyst, a company driven by researching women’s roles in the workplace, found women account for less than a third (29%) of all senior roles globally and Workhuman® research shows men are twice as likely to be in senior management or executive roles as women. What’s more, when women are in these positions, about 1 in 3 of them have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, and women in senior or executive positions are less likely to get a higher bonus and more likely to receive a smaller bonus than men.

In order to create and see change in how women are perceived and treated in the workplace, it is imperative that practices are put in place that create transparency around the issue and encourage mutual trust between employee and employer.

These transparent practices include:

Regular check-ins

Yearly annual reviews are no longer effective in reviewing performance, and certainly not in helping women climb the ranks. Workhuman research finds 55% of workers believe annual reviews do not improve their performance. If employees feel this way, then managers aren’t going to be getting much benefit from these legacy practices either.

Regular check-ins are the key here. By allowing employees – both men and women – more frequent opportunities to speak to their managers, you help develop higher levels of trust, respect, and engagement. Indeed, workers who check in with their manager at least weekly as opposed to never are more than 2x as likely to trust their manager and nearly 2x as likely to believe they can grow in the organization.

Peer-to-peer recognition

There’s often no better way to evaluate an employee’s performance than looking at what their peers think. 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 office, not only will the bonds of trust across the whole company be strengthened, but mangers and leaders will also have more datapoints on which to base their considerations for a raise or promotion. This real-time, genuine information is another way to create a more holistic, transparent approach to recognising talent where it’s due.


Creating programmes to develop future leaders is another way to bring gender equality into the workplace. By identifying aspiring female leaders – through regular check-ins or peer-to-peer recognition for example – 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.

Employee well-being

Looking after employees is the number one remit for HR leaders. Whether that’s promoting a positive office culture, providing gym memberships or recognising the importance of flexible work options, there are many ways companies can go about improving the employee experience.

For IWD, leaders should examine their practices when it comes to women’s well-being in the workplace. A great way to foster inclusion and belonging is to support advocacy groups that help everyone from working parents to the LGBTQIA+ community. Executive and budget support is so important in empowering women across the board, and those at the top must lead by example.

A workplace for everyone

This International Women’s Day is an opportunity for all of us to recognise we have shared ownership in driving global gender parity. Inequality manifests itself in compensation, career progression, and management practices, and the people affected cannot do their best work if they are hindered at every turn. Providing an environment of fairness, awareness, and respect for all is essential to helping help build more positive and inclusive workplaces for everyone. 


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