5 Ways to Empower Your Employees on International Women’s Day

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In my opinion, International Women’s Day on March 8th is up there with Galentine’s Day as one of the most fun occasions. The day is an opportunity to empower one another, celebrate lady friends, and recognize the the hard work, sacrifices, and joy evident in the long history of women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.

I mean, come on! Just reading that inspires me! 😭🎉💪

However, the story of women in the workforce is a long and often troubled one. We’ve made strides in some areas of the world, but the reality is, women are still underrepresented in many fields and in the executive suite. When you take into account racial and ethnic background, the disparity becomes even more stark.

So, with a mind for guaranteeing an equitable and diverse workplace, let’s continue to recognize and celebrate women’s accomplishments. 

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How to celebrate International Women’s Day in the workplace

Before we dive into ideas, it’s important to note: Inclusion is key. 🔑

While it’s wonderful to have women-owned coalitions and support networks, it takes a careful balancing act to allow space for psychologically-safe conversations but also to not push these conversations aside.

For example, I recently listened to a woman speak about how awesome it was to be invited to speak at so many women-in-tech conferences—but that it was a bummer that more “mainstream” conferences regularly overlooked her proposals. 

In the spirit of inclusion, you should think of different identity groups as contained within your company culture, not as separate entities! 

So when it comes to celebrating women’s accomplishments, challenging the status quo, and understanding gender disparity, it should be a company-wide effort.

Got it? Cool. Let’s talk about ideas. 

1. Reflect 

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on your current equity and inclusion practices. Take a moment to dig into the data: What are the current demographics of your team? What does your hiring pool look like? Who gets recognized, and who receives promotions? 

Take a look at your HRIS or people operations systems—you should be taking advantage of its people analytics capabilities! If you’re using a recognition and rewards platform like Bonusly, you can easily see who your team is collaborating with and recognizing

These are hard questions, and the data can be surprising. If you have an equitable company culture, great! If not, then we have some work to do. 💚

For example, women are less likely to advocate for themselves in conversations about raises and promotions. Much like how the loudest voice in the room is often the most listened to, you can eliminate this bias by implementing objective goals and standardized performance review cycles.

2. Educate

Bonusly just went through Paradigm’s Unconscious Bias Training and whew, did we learn a lot! It’s always enlightening to hear about the latest research and come away with actionable steps for diminishing bias. 

Learning about the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion is important for every organization. Think of it as a career development opportunity! 😉

A common bias? Assuming that everyone on your team identifies as a man or woman. Celebrating International Women’s Day may backfire if you highlight someone who might not identify as a woman. That’s why Bonusly puts our preferred pronouns in our email signatures! 

Diverse and inclusive companies are more likely to be financially successful. There are a lot of theories surrounding this, the most prominent of which describes the importance of different perspectives in innovating and solving problems. Diverse workforces are just smarter, and building inclusive teams is a goal that can be worked toward like any other company objective. 

International Women’s Day is a great time to kick off this initiative. Bring in speakers, arrange workshops, read books… There are a lot of ways to learn about the impact of diverse workplaces. Here’s a good place to start: 10 Diversity & Inclusion Statistics That Will Change How You Do Business

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3. Mentor

Mentorship is important in many business settings, and it’s shown to help the retention and promotion rates of women, particularly minority women, by 15-28%

Up to 67% of women view mentorship as an important factor in their career advancement, but only 10% of women have actually had a mentor. Clearly, there is a gap here! 

Encouraging mentorship opportunities only solidifies peer relationships in the workplace. Unfortunately, recent research shows that 60% of men in senior-level positions are uncomfortable taking on a mentor role with younger women, leaving women 24% less likely than men to receive career advice from senior leaders. 

More than ever, senior leaders (who are still primarily men) need to support and advocate for women. 

Kickstarting a formal mentorship program at your organization, with careful consideration into complementary personalities, is a way to circumvent informal and/or casual mentorships, and make sure everyone has the opportunity to benefit from learning from a company leader. 

4. Support

Over the past 40 years, researchers confirm that people seem to have an inherent need and desire for meaningful work—work that is experienced as significant and purposeful. 

This also applies to the philanthropic, charitable work that your company does! Whether it’s through fundraising or volunteering, lending a helping hand is a good deed and is a great way to showcase your company’s values. 

In honor of International Women’s Day, consider making a donation or volunteering with a women-focused organization. Women- and girls-focused organizations only receive 1.6% of all charitable giving, so your support will definitely be recognized. 

Here are a few to consider:

There are lots more. Check out a larger list here.

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5. Recognize

The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the fewer women you see. Do you have any women on your executive team?

Considering that companies with gender diversity on their executive teams are more likely to be financially successful, we should all be working toward a diverse and engaging workforce—and that includes making sure everyone gets recognized.

I mean, only if you want a higher chance for your company to succeed. 😉

It’s not enough to simply hire women and hope for the best; you have to make sure they have the environment they need to succeed. That means celebrating and recognizing their accomplishments!

Look at your directors and managers. What’s the gender ratio like? What are the unique challenges they’ve had to face, and what successes can you highlight?

This doesn’t have to just be a hierarchical practice. Who are your culture leaders? These leaders are the ones who take it upon themselves to amplify the ideas of other women, or the ones who always go the extra mile. International Women’s Day is the perfect day to make sure you see them and their efforts.

But more than that, you’ll find that recognizing your employees is more impactful when you extend it beyond just one day. Make it a 365-day effort, and you’ll find a more transparent and inclusive company culture. For more ideas on how to achieve just that, check out:

Read the Guide to Modern Employee Recognition

Source: This post was originally published at Blog.Bonus on .

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