What do women want in the workplace? Of course, the answer depends on the individual. However, more companies are focusing on attracting and maintaining women with significant payoffs. Here’s a run-down of strategies that seem to resonate:
Equal Pay for Equal Work. This issue remains number one for women workers. After years of raising red flags with companies, the inequality continues. On a percentage basis, the average woman earns just 79% of what a man earns. Dollar for dollar, for every $5 a man makes, a woman earns less than $4. And the gap widens as women age, which means the problem is even greater for more experienced women.
Flexible Schedules. Think performance over hours in the office. Flexible schedules that allow for life situations—sick children, school events and aging parents—are highly sought-after and send a message that you value employees as responsible, well-rounded adults. A solid remote working policy is a boost as well, as with Dell which aims for 50 percent of its employees working remotely by 2020.
Better Parental Leave. We all know how woefully insufficient maternity leave is in the U.S. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new mothers who have worked for one year or more. But that’s unpaid leave, just 12 weeks and for companies with 50 or more. If you want to get serious about attracting women, get a better policy and offer paternity leave as well.
Better Childcare Options. Hand-in-hand with better maternity leave is better childcare. Professionals look for assistance in finding and often financing good care for their children. In fact, employers that subsidize some of an employees’ childcare are far more likely to attract professionals with young children.
More Promotions. It’s one thing to hire women, but it’s another to actually have a C-suite of women leaders. Companies that walk-the-walk invest in women’s professional development, career coaching and mentoring. They are also mindful of asking women to take on bigger projects and creating teams that include women in key roles.
A Better Culture. Unfortunately, the old boys club hasn’t completely gone away. If you’re still doing things like cigar-chomping parties, beer bashes and poker nights, it’s probably a good time to re-think these rituals. Although some women may jump at the opportunity to attend an all-night kegger or light up a stogie, it’s also the perception of these events that counts. Something a little less fraternity-like would definitely improve the company image as women-friendly.
Zero Tolerance for Sexism. Along with checking your culture is also checking certain behaviors. Treat sexual harassment with the seriousness it deserves. Also, blatant issues like talking over women in meetings or ignoring their contributions need to come to a halt. And make sure that everyone—not just the chief offenders –are educated on how to work in a diverse work environment.
Focus on the Next Generation. Tech and all STEM-related businesses need to do more to ensure that young recruits include women. Invest in education, scholarship and mentoring programs to ensure you’ll fill the pipeline with women employees in the future. Also make sure that young women recruits are given ample assistance in adjusting to and succeeding in your culture.
Finally, look at how your company respects its women customers. A woman-friendly brand is not just good business sense, it can make a powerful statement when recruiting more women to your company. Tomorrow, we’ll focus on what makes a woman-friendly brand and how to fix your current image.