Work It Out with Vivian – Issues Women Face at Work and What Leaders Can Do to Help

Black Women in the Workplace: A Q&A with Minda Harts – AAUW : Empowering  Women Since 1881

Women continue to encounter challenges when it comes to advancing in the workplace—and in many facets of society. This is why we are highlighting important issues that are fundamental to women who are trying to progress in business across the country. We’ve also shared below a few action steps required of leaders who are willing to be innovative and make room at the table for women to succeed at work.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Flexible Work Arrangements—Working flexibly is an attraction for many women.

Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) define how, where, and when employees’ work, allowing them to best manage their career and personal priorities. Once seen as an employee benefit or an accommodation for caregivers (primarily women), flexible work arrangements are now an effective tool for organizations to attract top talent as well as a cost-savings measure to reduce turnover, productivity, and absenteeism.

What can leaders do to support flexible work arrangements?
•    Switch their focus to productivity and results, and not time spent at the desk.
•    Seek out managers who currently work flexibly and find out what works and what doesn’t.
•    Encourage your own team to be a role model and consider utilizing FWAs.

Equal Pay
Women around the world continue to face a wage gap. In fact, women on average will need to work more than 70 additional days each year just to catch up to the earnings of men. Women are still paid less than men in their first job after graduation.

What can leaders do to encourage equal pay?
•    Ensure that there are no gaps in your workplace by doing a wage audit.
•    Implement a “no negotiations” policy.
•    Support pay transparency.
•    Evaluate recruitment, promotion, and talent development systems for gender bias.

Race and Gender Bias—Women of color continue to deal with some of the workplace’s most entrenched hurdles.
Everyone has unconscious biases—even the best-intentioned people—which play out in their everyday lives and interactions such as those in the workplace. Working women of color face a unique set of challenges that intersect across race/ethnicity, gender, and culture. Because of this, many women of color oftentimes have to deal with daunting roadblocks such as other people’s beliefs, attitudes, and experiences.

What can leaders do to discourage race and gender bias?
•    Don’t shy away from talking about uncomfortable or difficult topics. Each of us—regardless of our race or gender—has a role to play.
•    Be open to feedback and learning.
•    If you see harmful behavior in your workplace, say something. Otherwise, your silence makes you complicit in it.
•    Build trust and confront inequities head on through organization-wide strategies.

Access to Hot Jobs—Why don’t women have the same access to career-making roles as men?
Not all leadership opportunities are created equally, and not all jobs provide the same degree of career advancement. Today, women still get offered fewer of the high visibility, mission-critical roles, and international experiences (what we call “hot jobs”) that are important to reaching the highest levels of leadership.

What can leaders do to create more hot job opportunities for women?
•    Make a deliberate investment to help women colleagues.
•    Model inclusive leadership behaviors.
•    Empower employees to negotiate their roles.

Role Models—There are few powerful examples of women role models in workplaces.
You can’t be what you can’t see. Most women agree that a lack of senior or visibly successful female role models as a major obstacle to their career advancement. While women are a large part of the labor force, they make up less percentage of CEOs and top earners.

What can leaders do to build up role models for women?
•    Be intentional about appointing highly qualified women to your executive team, corporate board, C-suite, and/or CEO position.

Excerpt from The Catalyst

Curated by Angel Ejugh

Women & Work, work life

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