4 ways you can support the women in your workplace to maximise their potential

By
Deborah Ayoade
April 1, 2020

The theme for International Women’s day this year is ‘each for equal’. This highlights the reality that the world becoming a fairer place for women (in the workplace and beyond) will call for commitment from each of us.

This will look like each of us choosing to support the women in our individual spheres of influence, in often small but impactful ways – recognising that achieving equality for women in areas like pay, opportunities and advancement into leadership positions at work will require advocacy from all of us.

With this in mind, here are 4 ideas you can implement to support the women you work with to thrive at work and fulfil their potential.

1.Value their voices

A culture of collaboration and innovation requires hearing and valuing the potential in the different perspectives on your team. The Association for Talent development confirms this, finding that for innovation to happen, cultivating a context where ideas can be considered irrespective of their source is crucial. 

Intentional inclusion of women – who are more likely to be interrupted in team meetings can be applied by ensuring you’re making space to hear the perspectives and contributions of all of your team members during meetings. Intentionally steering conversation back to your female colleague if she’s interrupted or an idea she shares is overlooked is a great way to demonstrate respect for the contributions of the women in your team.

Another small but powerful move would be to ensure that tasks like minute-taking are varied regularly between both men and women in your team. This would free up women who more often take on these office ‘house-keeping duties’ to engage more freely with discussion and better able to contribute their insights and perspectives.

2.  Celebrate them

International Women’s Day is a brilliant opportunity to spotlight the work of women in your team and show your appreciation to them. This could be achieved by providing a platform for employees to share how female colleagues have excelled in their work or supported/inspired them in some way e.g. during a segment in the Monday morning meeting! Thoughtful gestures like crafting a ‘thankyou’ e-mail, handwritten note or a social media post championing a particular woman in your team and sharing on your LinkedIn or company Twitter account would go far in uplifting and encouraging the morale of the women in your team. This could become a more regular, monthly feature, demonstrating a commitment to empowering the women in your team through skills-based positive feedback which has been shown in research to be less-likely to be given to women, impacting their ability to develop an advance in their careers.

3. Seek opportunities for them

Championing the women around you at work can also look like asking about their personal development interests and acting as a point of connection to mentors or coaches within your network. On a larger scale in the office, this could be achieved by sending out a questionnaire (with an anonymous option) to take stock of what the women in your team would like support with to actualise their individual capacities at work and beyond. A compilation of relevant training courses, coaches and events could then be produced by organising themes from the feedback and sharing these within your team. You could then ask your colleagues for any personal recommendations of communities, courses and coaches to allow for cross-networks to form. This list could then be shared within the staff intranet for women to select from, including team contacts next to coach and mentor details. 

4. Advocate for diversity training (to empower people to be sensitive to and challenge their own gender biases)

Finally, to sustain long-term changes, senior leaders investing in some training would be invaluable to the long-term empowerment of the women in your team. Informing and equipping team members to be sensitive to their personal gender biases would enable them to audit their interactions and expectations of women in their teams, increasing understanding and empathy. Advocating for this training to happen in your organisation’s well-being calendar would enable you to be a part of effecting deeper change, with the practical tools gained from the training enabling greater collaboration and actualisation of potential for the women in your team.

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