One year after #metoo, women are still experiencing a great deal of gender discrimination in the workplace — and sexual harassment isn't the only issue. A study from Pew Research Center reveals the gender pay gap has remained stagnant for roughly 15 years. And women, on average, earn only 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. The same study shows women are more likely to feel isolated in the workplace, have their competence questioned and receive less managerial support.
While sexism is certainly to blame for some employers, others may just not be aware of or think about what their workplace is like for people who are different from them, in this case, their female workers and leaders. Sam Radocchia, co-founder of blockchain provider Chronicled, suggests that “companies [need to] understand that there are different stresses experienced by different minority groups.” In other words, women and men may not see the same actions as support.
Related Article: Be Bombastic: Survival Tips for Women Raising Venture Capital
Empowering Women in your Workplace
We asked experts and practitioners what they do within their own organizations to make sure they are creating an environment that helps their female workers thrive. Here is what they said.
1. When bias is to blame, kill it at the root - At digital marketing agency Big Sea, CEO Andi Graham says, "We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexism, even when thinly veiled as snark or sarcasm. Knowing that I will always squash those jokes or comments empowers our female employees to do the same and has made it clear to everyone that that sort of humor isn't funny.” No one — male or female — feels supported when they’re constantly undercut or belittled, and Graham says, “Empowerment stems from feeling fully-supported in every way.”
2. Hiring women in upper management - How many women are in your C-Suite? Are all your vice presidents male? Radocchia says, “It is absolutely crucial to have women in leadership positions. And it's not enough for women to just shape business results or just shape company culture — they should have a hand in both.” This isn’t just important for showing female employees they matter — it also has a direct benefit on the bottom line as CNBC reports companies with high-level, female execs make more money.
3. Provide public speaking opportunities - Bobbie Carlton is founder of Innovation Women, a speakers’ bureau for tech and entrepreneurship events. She calls public speaking “a career game-changer,” explaining that when you put a female employee on stage as your company’s representative — be it as a solo speaker or a panelist, it “impart[s] some of the same credibility and expert status.” As for those who claim women get paid less because they don’t ask for promotions or raises, Carlton says, “The more women get comfortable and confident in their speaking abilities, the more their careers will advance.”
4. Teach them - On a related note, Garima Thakur, global treasurer for TaylorMade Golf Company, says to “arm [female staff] with knowledge. How? By pursuing continued education, getting relevant certifications, [and] staying on top of industry and market trends.” Not only does this investment show you care about their future with the company, it also addresses the problem of women being treated like they aren’t as competent as men. “If you know what you’re talking about, people will stop to listen,” Thakur says. And if they don’t — even when this employee has all the right training, certifications, and knowledge — you may have just found your company’s source of bias.
5. And again, it comes back to pay - Women have faced an uphill battle in the pay equality arena since time immemorial it seems. Now more than ever it's important for organizations to do what they can to bridge this gap.
“Sorry,” Radocchia says, “maybe this is obvious, but: Pay. Women. Equally. Period.”