It’s 2017, yet even in developed countries like the US only 46.6% of the workforce is female. It gets worse - women account for a mere 16 percent of the leadership teams of companies in the US (and only 15 percent of the leadership teams in India).
Working women are often seen as survivors in “a man’s world” and it is time this changed. Workplaces should belong as much to female employees as they do to male employees. This, unfortunately, has not happened yet. Till date,
one of the biggest reasons as to why women leave their jobs is the company’s lack of belief in their competence and dedication to the job.Working women are either expected to leave soon because they’d be having kids in a few years or because they already have kids and are expected to be busy managing them.
The tragedy of this all is that having more women in the workforce, especially at senior levels is good for the company.
So, if you’re looking to hire and retain good female talent, here’s what you can do to make the environment at your workplace more conducive to them:
- Take care of their travel: Most companies send office cabs to drop employees home, or reimburse their travel. In case yours is doing none of that, the least you can do is have the company register the mode of conveyance and the recognition number of the vehicle your employee is taking.
- Talking about women’s problems freely: Strangely enough, female biological issues like menstruation and endometriosis are rarely talked about in the workplace. It is the responsibility of the leader to be approachable enough for the female employees to approach them with their ‘hush-hush’ issues.
- Pay them equally: It’s unfortunate how common it is for women to be paid less than their male counterparts. In the US, women reportedly earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. (Source: Boston Globe) As long as all employees on at a similar position deliver on their targets, they should be paid equally regardless of their gender.
- Don’t hire sexist people: It’s literally as simple as that. An easy way to find out how sexist a person is would be to have a woman interview a male candidate and vice versa. That way, there’s a chance you’ll get to know whether the candidate has a problem taking orders from the opposite sex or not in the interview itself.
- Avoid casual sexism: Sexism, no matter how casual or playful, should be a strict no-no at the workplace. Male employees need to be made aware practices that are sexist. It might be ‘suffocating’ to some, but leaders need to be stringent about it. In the long-term, a sexism free environment can go a long way to contributing to the growth of your employees and your company
- Period leave: This year, Italy is going to be one of the first countries in Europe to have introduced a period leave of 5 days a month for its female employees. Japan on the other hand, has had this provision ever since the Second World War. While some people may consider this move unfair to men, employers need to understand that it is only fair to give extra benefits to women in case of biological conditions they didn’t choose to have. For some women, periods can be severly debilitating.
- Maternity leave: One of the biggest threats to the careers of women everywhere is the horror of having to choose between a job and their family. This is where having a maternity leave policy can help. Paid maternity leave is another strong incentive that makes the workplace woman-friendly. While Serbia boasts of giving a 52 weeks long paid maternity leave to its female employees, the US gives merely 12 weeks with no payment. Introducing maternity leave in your organisation can make your employees more loyal to the company. In addition to this, employees that feel well looked after may be willing to put in more hours once they return.
What companies do not realise is that letting go of female employees deprives them of gender balance in the workplace. Women are known to bring an empathetic, optimistic and nurturing vibe to the work environment, as opposed to the brutal pragmatism of the male workforce. Moreover, hiring more women, especially at higher posts, inspires other women at junior designations to work harder reach the top, and as already explored in our previous article, having more women in the company is ultimately good for the company itself.