Women are stepping into the workforce not just because they want to be financially supportive members of their families but also because they have Goals and Career Aspirations. The nature and employment conditions of the workforce being employed by global and local organizations are changing.
Organizations are using “Diversity”, “Empowerment” and “Inclusion” as terms to define these changes in the new staff structure and composition. Human Resource Professionals are busy finding various ways of dealing with the expectations and Needs of these Working Women. Flexible Work hours., Maternity Leaves & Pay, Day Care Facilities etc are just some of the very basic examples. Until fairly recently, for Most Countries these were just benefits offered by Multinationals but now they are an important part of the Labor laws globally.
Women in the workforce is not a very new concept however, the awareness of what it entails is new. Initially when Women were hired at organizations, Work policies and SOPs were not immediately reviewed to include the various aspects of women employment. However, as single women in the workforce got married, their personal and work life became more complex. As these women climbed senior roles their Needs differed from those of their male counterparts. There was a sudden realization that perhaps employing women in the workforce is not a great idea and that lead to the creation of gender biasness at the workplace.
However, as a result of growing populations, the requirement of getting resources onboard to get work done is becoming a task and a half. Not employing women in the workforce is no longer an option. To understand and deal with Women’s issues and their needs is the need of the hour. That’s how you hear Women Empowerment, Gender Equality and Pay Equality more and more frequently now.
Employing women, understanding them and ensuring they are productive members of the organization cannot be achieved if your Corporate Culture is not trained to be Women Inclusive.
After working in the ICT industry for years and training them to be acceptable of women in technical and leading roles. I have understood the importance of constant communication with the Workforce. You have to prep and communicate your Male Team Members (all levels) on how they need to deal with women and their issues on job and personal lives. Similarly you have to at the same time counsel women and coach them on how they should perform on the job.
Women should not make unfair use of the liberty, empowerment that is provided to them by organizations so that the Company and their Male Peers don’t start to feel that they have been cheated. At the same time, Company and Men in the workforce should not use Women personal issues as reasons for rejecting promotions and including women on technical & managerial roles.
Some of the successful programs and initiatives that Companies and Human Resource Professionals could work on to improve the Women Inclusiveness are as follows:
- Diversity and Inclusiveness is not a one off initiative and should not be dealt as one. Various Small reminders through regular meet-ups, engagement sessions, activities and enforcing Gender quality through each Policy and protocol will create success.
- Reinforcement at all levels.Employees, Team Leads, Managers, Head of Departments and Company Management Committee should all be saying the same things, following the same principles that have been laid out by the Human Resource Teams to tackle Women Inclusiveness
- Zero Tolerance towards Sexual harassment.Once a manager or a key employee with proof has been accused of sexual harassment (an it can go both ways) he should not be working on your payroll. Keeping an accused will not only demotivate the claimant but also have a negative impact on other employees.
- Flexible Working Hours & Evaluation. This would help not just women but also men in the workforce. As long as the work gets done, deadlines are met and the quality of work is great – An employee will get paid, will be appraised for increments and promotions.
- Career Coach/Mentor within the company. Assigning a Mentor or a Coach within the organization to Star performers will ensure they have a support system in place to address any issues that they may face on the job.
- An Engaging Women’s Network at the workplace. Hold regular meetings, sessions or workshops for a Women Centric Network within the company. This will be a platform for women to exchange ideas, knowledge and also talk openly about issues they strongly feel about.
- An Engaging Men’s Network at the workplace. Yes you heard that right. While your listening to your women, you need to listen to your men too. Because this will give you great insight as to see if there’s been an improvement in how men in the company think and how they perceive their women counterparts role in the organization. In addition to this, it’s a general engagement network through which you can always get great ideas on improving the company culture. It will also generate a buddy system, which would help create a friendly place. You can also use this platform to regularly run workshops that coach and counsel people on inclusiveness, professional ethics and organization’s goals.
- Run Engagement Surveys– to see if your engagement and inclusiveness programs are creating an impact or not.