It’s October, and interspersed in the beautiful fall palette of red, yellow, and orange leaves are pink ribbons reminding us it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Statistics tell us someone gets a breast cancer diagnosis every two minutes in America. The prognosis is good when caught early. Innovations in research, surgical options, and clinical trials – often funded by your donations – are improving both the longevity and quality of life for breast cancer survivors. So, wear your pink ribbon and support breast cancer research. You can donate through cancer.org and other non-profits in your area.
In the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are a few more ways to elevate women in the workplace.
Don’t Deny Working Moms an Opportunity
Stop assuming a mom can’t handle additional responsibilities in the office because she has kids at home. Who knows how many well-qualified internal candidates are never seriously considered for career advancement because someone assumes the promotion and raise would interfere with their parenting. Perhaps an employee is pregnant or has an infant, and her manager doesn’t “feel right” asking her to take a higher profile position at this time. So, the opportunity is never offered with the rationale that the company is “doing her a favor” by not bothering her.
The first way to elevate women in the workplace is to stop making assumptions.
You don’t know her resourcefulness and drive. Her ambition may lean toward her career, and, if she is already a senior executive, chances are good she has built a team at home to help take care of the house and kid(s). Present her with the opportunity and allow her to decide for herself rather than shutting the door before ever consulting with her.
On average, women are paid 83% of their male counterparts’ compensation for the same title and responsibilities. Mothers are the breadwinners in half of U.S. households – that number jumps to nearly 75% in Black homes. When working moms are undercompensated, they have less money for basic necessities and must forego saving for college or retirement. Five years ago, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimated that if all women were paid fairly, the U.S. poverty rate could be cut in half and consumer spending would increase $500 billion in the U.S.
A bill known as the Paycheck Fairness Act was passed in the House last year and is currently stalled in a Senate committee. The bill addresses wage discrimination based on gender. Among its provisions is an annual award to an employer who makes substantial strides in eliminating disparities in pay between women and men.
One company who could qualify right now for the Secretary of Labor’s National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace is Medtronic, an international healthcare technology company with U.S. offices in Minneapolis. (Full disclosure: Medtronic has a working relationship with inclineHR.) In its 2020 Integrated Performance Report, Medtronic boasts 100% gender pay equity among its U.S. workforce and is at 99% equity globally. Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) is baked into the Medtronic mission, and you see it play out in the company’s commitment to gender and ethnic diversity in recruitment, advancement, and compensation.
“Man may work from sun to sun, But a woman’s work is never done.”
~ English Proverb
Provide a Safe Space to Ask for Help
An interesting study out of the UK shows that women who earn considerably more than their husbands will end up doing more household chores if the couple has children, regardless of who shouldered more domestic responsibilities before they became parents. On the surface this may seem counterintuitive. Researchers suggest the imbalance in wages threatens long-standing gender norms, and mothers pick up more household chores, or vice versa, fathers resist doing household chores, to restore a sense of balance to the traditional gender roles at home.
It is still widely assumed that women will tackle the lion’s share of domestic responsibilities in a relationship. This norm was recently reinforced during COVID when many more women than men – an estimated 1.1 million female workers – left the workforce to care for dependent children or aging parents. Those who remained on the job still faced, on average, an extra six hours of household duties per day. A 2018 study found being a working mom is the equivalent of holding 2.5 full-time jobs.
With such demand on working moms’ time and energy outside of office hours, another way to elevate women in the workplace is to provide a psychologically safe place to ask for concessions that will help them juggle work and home life. If she needs to leave the office mid-afternoon to meet a child at the bus stop, let her complete her workday remotely from home. Be less demanding about facetime and punching a clock, whenever possible, and focus more on her outcomes and productivity. Offer flexible scheduling to allow her time to take care of herself and family.
If a company wants loyal, engaged, and productive employees, it can start by establishing HR policies that empower individuals to lead a more balanced, less stressful life. It begins by offering a safe space to have candid conversations about what is needed for work-life balance.
More Female Voices
Another way to elevate women in your organization is to allow more female voices to be heard in the boardroom. A study cited in this CNBC article reports 28% of board member positions at 1,677 publicly traded companies are held by women. However, that percentage drops into single digits when you look at the Executive Director and Board Chair seats, where real decision-making power rests.
Having a female CEO or Board Chair increases the likelihood that a company will be gender diverse in its recruiting, promotion, and pay. Having a woman at the top can ripple throughout the organization and open doors for women at all levels.
The key is to have more women in the C-suite, ready to ascend to CEO as opportunities arise. Leadership assessment and executive coaching through inclineHR can help you identify your next rising star and groom her for the C-suite.
Almost two-thirds of inclineHR clients are women and people of color. It’s a statistic that makes us proud. Not because we set out with a campaign geared to attract females and minorities, but because some of our earliest clients happened to be women and POC with enormous talent. When our clients found their opportunity while working with us, they referred inclineHR to a colleague. Our growth has been almost exclusively organic. We just happen to resonate well with women and people in minority groups.
inclineHR is proud to elevate women this October and every month.