Checklist: 10 Workplace Policies You Must Provide to Empower Women of 2020
In the new decade, the talks around empowering women have changed. The world is no longer pushing women to come out and take the center stage. Women themselves are taking the charge, shattering the glass ceiling and strengthening other women. They are going beyond requesting equal rights to demanding the same. And companies not able to empower women or hear these demands will be the ones at loss in the coming future.
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women is also working along the same lines by centering the 2020 women’s day theme around generation equality and women right.
Although, many companies are becoming the voice to empower women, but it’s more in words than in actions. Ground-level policies at most of the organizations tell a different story. There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of perspectives to be understood.
If you also consider that your company empowers women and advocates for their rights, then here’s a quick 10-point checklist to give you a reality check and push you in the right direction.
Image Source: UN Women
1. Allow Flexible Work Shifts
Women, especially married and mothers, juggle with a lot of tasks every day. Half their lives go in balancing their personal and professional commitments, without disappointing any in the process.
To empower women, you must provide flexible work hours to the employees (both men and women). In place of forcing them to complete strict 8/9 hours every day, provide them the option to complete hours as per their flexibility. Studies have shown that flexible workers achieve more, work longer and are happier in the workplace.
Allow them to work for longer hours one day and cut back on a few hours the other to let them honor their personal and professional work. In place of clocking daily hours, go for weekly hours.
Also, it’s highly recommended to not follow a strict 9 am in the office policy. Let your employees arrive late a few times. There are high chances that women are dropping their children to school or daycare facilities before arriving at the office. Therefore, not following a strict 9 am policy is a big reliever.
2. Let Employees Work from Home
Time crunch is the most common struggle of working women. With a pile of personal, professional and childcare work to do, time becomes the most precious asset of their life. This is why they want to save their traveling time as often as possible to tend to other important matters at hand.
Work from home is quite helpful in such cases, especially for women living in metro cities where traveling can be gruesome.
Therefore, you must provide a flexible option to work from home. 63% of full-time employees think working remotely can boost their productivity and 3.9 million employees of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time.
3. Grant Appropriate Maternity Leaves
How well thought your policies are crafted can be easily determined by the extent to which you’re willing to support pregnant women and mothers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a 16-week minimum of maternity leave. However, depending on your discretion, you can go beyond the recommended limit.
But it’s always advised to remain flexible for work from home or extended maternity leave option. As different women deal differently with pregnancy, the recovery period of women also varies. As a result, you must take into consideration the personal needs of the mother while providing maternity leaves.
4. Build Well-thought Re-joining Programs for Mothers
It is one of the most downplayed aspects of a woman’s life.
Rejoining the workplace after a long maternity break is no easy. Especially, when technology is changing trends every month and year. Therefore, you should ensure to build a well-thought rejoining program for the women who join back after a long maternity break. Doing this not only empower women but also makes their life after the maternity gap a lot easier.
The program should include bracing the women with all the project updates and providing them the right training that brings them back in the game faster. A smooth transition back to the workplace is one of the empathetic steps an organization can take towards making women’s life easier.
5. Layout Clear and Concrete Career Advancement Criteria
Women are 3x more likely than men to think that their gender has played a role in their missing out on a raise, promotion, or other chance to get ahead. More and more organizations should address these unconscious issues faced by women, providing a level playing field for both genders.
To achieve this, evaluate the performance of both genders on the same list of criteria. Don’t go with the gut feeling or favoritism-based promotion. Once the laid-out criteria are met, promote the employees irrespective of their gender.
By stating the career progress parameters clearly, an organization abolishes any hint of unconscious bias that might affect the promotion. This is highly advantageous for bridging the gender pay gap that is rampant across every industry.
6. Target Gender-skewed Hiring Patterns
Research suggests that both men and women are twice as likely to hire a male candidate than female. Gender-bias patterns might unconsciously creep into your hiring plans before you even notice. This is why people view unconscious bias as the number one barrier to the career progress of a woman.
While we know bias is an unconscious problem, the solution lies in consciously targeting the problem. Audit your hiring patterns and observe if any of the job roles are unconsciously skewed towards hiring male candidates. If yes, then investigate the bias and understand where the problem lies.
For instance, leadership roles and roles demanding manual labor or on-field work are generally inclined towards male candidates.
7. Conduct Panel Discussions and Mentorship Programs
Although women are breaking the barriers and pushing the frontiers, there is still a lot to do. A lot of women in the workplace are still afraid to ask for leadership positions, promotions and some are even afraid to voice their opinions in the meetings. As women in the U.S occupy 47% of the workforce, not empowering them can be a big loss.
Therefore, you must constantly conduct and regulate panel discussions and mentorship programs to voice what women face every day in the workplace. And don’t make it a one-time thing. Make it a constant and evolving process where new issues come to the surface, are talked about and get resolved.
8. Diversify Women Workforce to Empower Women
Once you have consciously maintained a gender ratio of male and female candidates. The next step is to ensure that you are not playing it safe.
Yes, even while adopting strategies that empower women there are high chances that you’re affected by unconscious bias and are not hiring colored women or women belonging to the LGBTQ community.
Therefore, emphasize on diversifying women talent as much as gender diversity. The diverse your women talent base is, the better you can empower women to thrive in the workplace.
9. Provide In or Near-office Childcare Facility
Working women are constantly struggling to divide their attention between work and child. Dropping their child at a childcare facility and then rushing to the office is a common sight in the U.S. And the struggle gets worse in the evening when mothers frantically navigate through traffic to pick their children from the childcare facility.
To take away their childcare worries and help them work peacefully in office, you must provide in-house childcare facilities or associate with one nearby.
Having a childcare facility near the office is a big plus for any woman to associate with your brand. Not only does this drastically empower women and increase their retention rate but it might also add you to the list of best places to work for women.
10. Implement Strict & Clear Sexual Harassment Policies
We have kept this point for the last because providing a safe place to work is basic. It starts with creating no-tolerance policies for serious sexual offenses. As a responsible and women-friendly organization, you must hardcode no-tolerance policies into your workplace and ensure they are strictly adhered to.
While drafting your sexual harassment policies, you must ensure to not leave any gap that can be exploited. Be very explicit and clear about what all is covered in sexual harassment and the punishments that come along with it.
Struggling to balance gender diversity at your workplace? Let Infojini assist you with the right hiring strategies.
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