Empowering Women in the Workplace: Strategies for Supporting Female Employees

by Kylee Stone May 15,2024

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Over the past few years, there has been notable advancement in promoting gender equality in the workforce, but women continue to encounter obstacles in career progression. 

Women at work continue to face challenges such as pay disparity, limited presence in senior roles, and bias. In a society that values variety and acceptance, supporting women in the workforce is both a moral imperative and a strategic decision for businesses. By creating a supportive atmosphere for women, companies enable them to reach their potential, resulting in higher levels of creativity, efficiency, and financial success. 

This blog examines four main approaches that individuals and organizations can adopt to help women succeed in the workplace, creating a supportive environment for their growth and success. Let’s understand how to support women at work.

4 Ways to Support Women at Work

Understanding how to support women at work is the first step in establishing a workplace that is more fair and inclusive. Recognition and intentional efforts are needed to address these challenges and promote gender equality to create a more inclusive workplace culture. 

Below are four distinct methods for addressing female workplace issues:

  • Creating a Safe and Inclusive Environment

When we talk about ‘creating a safe work environment for women,’ we mean allowing them complete freedom to express their thoughts and concerns without fear of humiliation or reprisal. It also involves safeguarding against harassment, ensuring there are no repercussions for reporting issues, offering clear paths for career growth, and providing opportunities for professional development to address the lack of advancement opportunities for women. 

To cultivate a safe and supportive environment for women at work, consider the following:

1. Adopt clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies

Actions that are considered discriminatory and offensive must be laid out clearly, and there should be multiple options for reporting such incidents. Moreover, provide frequent training sessions to inform employees about these policies and confirm their comprehension of their rights and duties in establishing a secure work environment. 

By promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity, companies can tackle the issues brought up by women and establish a more favorable work environment for all staff members.

Also read: Which HR Roles are Most Likely to Be Replaced by AI?

2. Conduct diversity and inclusion training programs

Organizations should welcome and celebrate diversity instead of imposing it on others. Diversity and inclusion training can help employees identify unconscious biases and understand the value of honoring diverse viewpoints and backgrounds.

3. Offer bystander intervention training

Being a mook in an atmosphere where harassment or discrimination is taking place might make things worse at work. Workers who undergo bystander intervention training are better prepared to intervene and address inappropriate behavior they witness, improving the overall safety and positivity of the workplace environment for women at work. 

Employers must thus provide employees with the necessary resources to identify and address discriminatory behavior or microaggressions as they occur.

  • Promoting Work-life Balance

Work-life balance is a much-talked-about issue but less addressed. But why is having flexible work alternatives more crucial for women? Women are typically the ones who provide the majority of caregiving duties, and they can gain a lot from them. 

To retain brilliant female employees and increase job happiness, it is imperative to assist women in striking a balance between their home and professional lives. 

To achieve a work-life balance for women at work, consider the following:

1. Offer flexible work arrangements

Technology has revolutionized the work culture, making it easier for employees to work remotely or adjust their schedules to accommodate their personal lives better. This technology can be very well utilized by women who are juggling caregiving responsibilities. 

Provide options such as remote work, flexible hours, compressed workweeks, part-time work, job sharing, sabbaticals, annualized hours, etc., to accommodate diverse needs and responsibilities.

2. Encourage employees to disconnect

Constant connectivity to work can blur the boundaries between professional and personal life, making it difficult for women to fully engage with their families, hobbies, and personal interests. 

Encouraging employees to disconnect helps them establish clearer boundaries, allowing for a better balance between work and personal life. Contrary to the belief that constant availability leads to increased productivity, taking regular breaks and disconnecting from work can actually improve productivity and efficiency. 

According to a survey, Americans value work-life balance (63%) more than a high-paying salary (27%). Women who are encouraged to disconnect return to work with renewed energy and focus, leading to higher-quality output in less time. This can help them tap their full potential and foster a more positive work environment overall.

Also read: Insights for HR: How to Support HR Teams Through Downsizing Challenges

3. Endorse parental leave policies and childcare options

Offering support to working parents can reduce pressure and enable staff to concentrate on their tasks during working hours. Parental leave policies and affordable, high-quality childcare services ease the workload for working parents. 

Additionally, companies can also provide on-site childcare or partner with local daycare institutions. When childcare options are accessible, parents are less likely to be absent from work, leading to fewer unscheduled absences and productivity interruptions. 

Accessible childcare services help promote gender equality by reducing the unequal share of childcare duties typically carried out by women. This can help create a fairer work environment and enhance the chances for women to progress in their careers.

  • Championing Women’s Advancement

It is crucial to support and invest in women to facilitate their advancement in professional endeavors. Research conducted by Catalyst revealed that companies with larger proportions of women holding leadership positions generally experience superior economic results compared to those with fewer female executives. 

To champion women’s advancement:

1. Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs

Mentorship helps women manage the workplace’s complex dynamics, which may include the company culture, politics, and nonverbal regulations. Having a mentor who shares their own experiences can offer women useful advice on how to thrive in their chosen industry. 

A helpful mentor can boost women’s self-esteem and belief in their talents, particularly in fields dominated by men or where women frequently feel like frauds or lack confidence. Mentors encourage women to take on new challenges and achieve ambitious goals by providing comfort, affirmation, and perspective. Mentorship can also help build professional networks, promote work-life balance, and advance diversity and inclusion efforts.

2. Offer leadership development programs tailored to women’s needs

Encouraging women to pursue and achieve leadership roles is essential for gender equality and the general prosperity of businesses and society. This is primarily because it fosters greater innovation, better judgment, and improved financial results. 

Nonetheless, it is imperative that businesses provide specialized leadership development courses that highlight the unique challenges and barriers faced by women in the workplace. Provide instruction in assertiveness, work-life balance, imposter syndrome, and negotiation techniques to help women overcome barriers in industries where males predominate. 

These programs help women become more confident, acquire the necessary skills, and navigate leadership roles with success.

Also read: Careers Spotlight: What Is an HR Generalist?

3. Highlight and celebrate women’s achievements

Appreciation and recognition of women’s achievements in the workplace motivate others and perpetuate a culture of appreciation and recognition. This can contribute to bridging the gap by removing barriers or stereotypes that may deny them a chance to advance in their careers. 

Women are more likely to pursue their goals and dreams if their efforts and success are rewarded and acknowledged.

4. Encourage self-nomination

Support the nomination of women in leadership opportunities and initiatives, which builds their confidence and visibility within the organization. Organizations may assist women in reaching their potential by creating an environment that supports their goals and gives them the confidence to try new things. Encourage women to actively seek out advancement opportunities and provide them with the tools and support to do so.

Also Read: This Study Says That You Should Hire More Female Leaders

  • Building Allyship

Men can play an important role in helping women progress in their careers by dismantling structural obstacles and promoting an equitable workplace. They may use their favorable position to enhance and magnify women’s accomplishments. Here’s how:

1. Speak up against gender bias and discrimination

Address stereotypes and prejudices promptly whenever they arise, whether during recruitment, assessments, or daily interactions. Dealing with and resolving issues or injustices quickly increases the chances of eliminating them and preventing their recurrence.

2. Amplify women’s voices

A few ways to amplify the voice of women at work are by providing forums for women to participate in meetings, conversations, and decision-making. Furthermore, listening to their ideas can help ensure that women’s opinions are valued and taken into consideration in the decision-making process.

3. Hold each other accountable

Accountability within organizations can be a powerful enabler of women’s career advancement since it fosters transparency and equity, which promote meritocracy. Accountability by individuals of all genders ensures fair opportunities for growth and career advancement and is performance-based rather than bias-based. 

This level playing field not only allows women to showcase their skills and capabilities but also empowers them to confidently pursue leadership roles, knowing their contributions will be recognized and fairly rewarded. In addition, in a culture of accountability, inclusivity, and diversity are encouraged, which means women find it easier to make use of mentorship, sponsorship, and networking opportunities for career growth. 

As a result, through accountability systems, organizations can actively support and propel women toward fulfilling their professional aspirations, thereby greatly contributing to closing the gap in gender parity in leadership roles.

Also read: Essential Skills Every HR Professional Should Master

To Wrap Up

Supporting women in the workplace is not just about fairness; it is a crucial strategy for companies looking to grow. It is the secret to succeeding in the current varied and fast-paced business environment. Companies can unleash the true potential of women at work and bridge the gap created by discrimination and gender bias. Gender equality helps in achieving long-lasting success by establishing safe and inclusive spaces, supporting work-life balance, empowering women’s progress, and fostering allyship.

High Performance Culture

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can organizations address gender bias in recruitment, ensuring a fair and unbiased hiring process?

Organizations can implement blind recruitment techniques, such as removing candidate names and other identifying information from applications, to focus solely on qualifications. Diverse hiring panels, comprising individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, can also help mitigate bias by providing varied perspectives. 

  1. How can businesses effectively support women returning from maternity leave to ensure a smooth transition back to work?

Businesses can support women returning from maternity leave by offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible hours, to accommodate their transition back into the workforce. Providing a phased return-to-work program allows for a gradual reintegration, easing the workload and stress. 

  1. What strategies can companies implement to proactively ensure pay equity for women and create a more inclusive workplace?

Companies can proactively ensure pay equity for women by conducting regular pay audits to identify any discrepancies in compensation. Adjusting these discrepancies promptly and maintaining transparent salary structures help ensure that women are paid equally for equal work, regardless of gender. Clear communication about pay policies and opportunities for advancement can also contribute to a more equitable and inclusive workplace culture.

Subscribe To The Engagedly Newsletter

Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

Privacy Preference Center