How To Build An Inclusive Business That Welcomes Women
There are more than enough reasons out there to show companies that hiring women and minorities need to be a priority. More diverse businesses are more robust, have better bottom lines, withstand difficult times more easily, and are often considered better businesses to work for.
And while many CEOs know this, they find that even when they do manage to bring on women and minorities to the workforce, they struggle to retain these valuable workers.
So what does a business need to do in order to reach these target employees?
Have A Diverse Hiring Team
The first step towards building a company that has a more equal balance of men and women is to make sure that the team doing the hiring is diverse. There are two reasons for this. First, women being interviewed by an all-male team aren’t going to connect with a company’s statements that it has a strong commitment to gender equality in the workplace.
Second, a hiring team that only has one viewpoint is going to select candidates who match that viewpoint. Having a hiring team with many different backgrounds and experiences will help bring in a broader range of candidates.
Review Policies For Family Friendliness
Paid maternity leave is important, especially in the current political climate, but what about paternal leave? Adoption leave, family leave, flexible scheduling, forgiving sickness policies? All of these changes make sure that women – and men – have the ability to actually balance the needs of their families with the needs of their careers, which makes them more likely to both take their job and stay in the position.
Talk to your current employees and understand what you’re doing right – and wrong – with inclusivity
If you’re trying to figure out why you’re not retaining the women you’re hiring, talk to them. Both women who are choosing to leave, and women who are choosing to stay. Find out what you can do better in the office, and look to fix problems. Ask about policies that would influence their decisions, and see what can be done to implement them.
Family leave and other family relocation assistance are often framed as a women’s issue, but in reality, nearly every worker, at some point, has to take time off work to manage an issue. It might be a legal problem, it might be a family matter, or it might simply be a day where they feel well enough to work, but don’t want to come to work and spread their germs around.
Providing for these moments in policy is good for all workers, not just women.
Recruit Female Leaders
For women to stay at a company over the long term, they need to see their career path within the organization and feel self-confident about their ability to perform. If all of the C-suites are filled by men, women are going to feel that they don’t have a long-term place in the organization, whether consciously or unconsciously.
If you are looking to change the inclusive environment in your business, understand that you will need to work both top-down and bottom-up.
Review documents for unconscious bias
In 2015, a study revealed several words that turn women off from applying for tech-related jobs. These included hiring ad standards like “best of the best,” “competitive salary,” and “stock options.” If a company has a diverse hiring team, they will hopefully have already reviewed their ads for bias, but what about employee manuals, inter-office memos, and other communications?
We often talk about sexism in the most obvious terms, and most companies have policies that declare discrimination based on sex or gender is not acceptable. But having a policy and actually having a workplace that supports gender equality and does not tolerate sexual harassment are two very different things.
Part of building an inclusive workplace is looking critically at all of your documentation and making sure it’s approachable for all employees. This will probably involve having women read your employee manual and commenting on its appropriateness. Be prepared to hear some hard truths.
Include women in all teams making company decisions
Are you looking to make any decisions that will affect your entire company? Make sure to have a team that includes women from different departments and areas of the company. Remember that just having one woman on the team is unlikely to create an environment where a woman will feel comfortable speaking up and addressing sexism at a given moment.
Having a more even split to a team will allow for more organic sharing of opinions and options. The benefits of having an inclusive and diverse company are clear. What has your company done to build a more inclusive employee roster?