International Women's Month, yet another moment when female power, talent, and ambition are celebrated and appreciated. This year has seen major initiatives by women - such as #MeToo and #Time'sUp - to rightfully take their place in society, especially in the modern corporate environment. That said, there are things that are vital in creating a culture that allows women in the corporate world to thrive and make a true contribution in the workplace and global economy.
I took the opportunity to reach out to Dr San Ludhra who works with many female Execs to find out what are some of the key things her clients see as non negotiable if we are to create environments which are not only attractive to women but will also allow them to thrive.
Level the playing field
In order to empower women further, you need to treated as equals to their male colleagues. This starts at the very beginning of the recruitment process. For example, make your advertisement for new jobs gender neutral. Also, to eliminate subconscious gender bias, perform blind assessment tests on applicants where their gender is unknown and the decision is based solely on the results.
One of San's, who asked to remain anonymous, was a major player in the M&A division of the firm she was overlooked where the big deals were concerned after returning from Maternity leave even though she'd often worked on these types deals before her pregnancy. She said she felt bullied and shunned.
It is an old and prominent fact that the gender pay gap does exist, a very demotivating factor to women, especially black and Latina women. In order for a woman to thrive at her job, pay her just as much as you would a man in the same position. This will boost her productivity and competitiveness.
I was surprised to hear that this is still a widespread issue given that most countries have passed laws making it illegal to differentiate pay, the US passed Equal Pay Act in 1963. Dr San Ludhra said "I know right !!!! It's shocking ... but a reality for many women still!".
Monitor productivity, not attendance
Although men play a role in raising a family, women still do most of the family work. It goes a long way when you create a flexible schedule for the corporate moms. You should focus on the performance and outcome of her work, not just her presence at the office.
Paid maternity leave and flexible working arrangements
Most women in business often go for unpaid maternity leave without child assistance. They also feel left out after their return to work. Often leading to their dropping out of the workforce completely. To accommodate them, companies should provide longer paid maternity leave and/or flexible remote work arrangements for continued productivity. Women embrace and benefit immensely from executive coaching and mentoring programmes. Such programmes are proven to ease women back to work post maternity leave, continued career progression. Essential for women to thrive in the corporate environment.
Women want to feel represented in positions of senior leadership. When you welcome female leadership in your company, women will be inspired to work with you, as they feel accommodated. Also, recognize their efforts just as you would the efforts of male employees. Give credit where it's due to empower and motivate your workforce wholly.
Play a collective role in improving the corporate environment to support the modern corporate woman.
It's hard to believe that many of these are still not standard in 2018, but any company looking to attract the best female talent needs to ensure that they offer these as an absolute minimum.