Employers often have good intentions. They want to be the best in class, see equal representations in the C-suite, boardroom and middle management pipeline. However, the actions that they take to achieve those aspirations often look like throwing things against the wall, crossing their fingers and hoping it sticks.
The truth is, it’s completely attainable, for all size, industry and age class of organizations. If you want more women in your talent pipeline, you have to be pragmatic. Increased female leadership has been proven to bolster morale, profit margins, company reputation and performance. The following list is intended to help organizations do a self-assessment to see where the largest areas of opportunity may reside.
- You can’t be what you can’t see- if you don’t have approachable, authentic women in leadership positions who take an active role in developing emerging talent, you’re not going to grow female leaders. If women don’t have the right role models in your organization, that sends a pretty clear message that their career path is limited or even nonexistent.
- Your parental leave program isn’t working- too often employers give themselves an exaggerated pat on the back when they pay 1, 2 even 6 weeks for parental leave. Don’t get me wrong, great start, but unless your managers excel at compassionately and effectively navigating the time before, during and after leave- it doesn’t matter. Bells cannot be ‘un-rung' and during these emotionally charged, personal life experiences, employees hold their employers at the highest level of scrutiny. They won’t remember what you say but they certainly will remember how you made them feel during this life changing event. The chances to screw up this process are immense. However, the potential loyalty that can be gained from correctly managing this process are equally immense.
- You have short sided managers- to continue the school of thought from #2, if managers don’t recognize that life events are the present, not the forever, you will lose countless talented, driven women who aren’t willing to budge on family needs when necessary. Managers- play the long game, check in when your female employees are struggling. Ask human questions and then listen. Be real, authentic and take off your boss hat for a minute. It will come back to you ten fold, I promise.
- Women talk- there has been an unprecedented alignment of women and the power of the female in recent months. It’s been stated several times that the silver lining of the current administration is the mobilization and demonstration of collective power of women. Not only will we discourage our network from working somewhere that doesn’t support women in the workplace, we will actively shout it from any rooftop that we can. Trust me, we will not only fill out the survey, we will yelp, glassdoor, fairygodboss and google review that employer until the cows come home.
- Unconscious bias- it’s overused, often misunderstood and usually too generalized but you cannot argue with the facts that women who allude to the fact that they are a mother on their resumes are 44% less likely to get a call back; that 40% of Americans don’t think mothers should work; or that 60% of women have experienced discrimination while pregnant or after returning from leave.
We all want companies to do this better. Your wife, daughter, sister, and friend deserve a more progressive work environment. It can be done, it can be sustained and it will make a positive impact on your business.