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International Women’s Day 2024: How to Support Women in the Workplace

Quick look: It’s International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the many achievements of women worldwide! Including women throughout every business level is linked to increased sales, innovation, and employee engagement and retention, among others. Here are six tips on how to support women in the workplace, on International Women’s Day and beyond.

Happy International Women’s Day! This recognition takes place annually on March 8 and is intended to be a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Incredibly, the first International Women’s Day took place in 1911 and was supported by over a million people. Read on to explore how employers can #InspireInclusion and prioritize supporting women throughout the year.

About International Women’s Day 2024

International Women’s Day features a different theme each year, and 2024’s is #InspireInclusion.

According to the holiday’s website, “to inspire inclusion means to celebrate diversity and empowerment,” and this theme aims to motivate people to “break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected.” Additionally, it hopes to highlight “the unique perspectives of contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalized communities.”

What’s it like for women at work?

International Women’s Day has several missions, one of which is to “forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated.” Before we dive into how employers can tackle this, let’s first review what work is like for the over 75 million working U.S. women today.

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2023 report, which surveyed over 27,000 employees and 270 senior human resources (HR) leaders from 276 organizations, found that:

  • A growing number of women are in C-suite, vice president, and senior vice president positions (the percentage of women in the C-suite has jumped from 17% to 28% since 2015).
  • Around 80% of women want to be promoted to the next level, and 90% of women under age 30 want to be promoted.
  • For every 100 men promoted from entry to level to manager, just 87 women were promoted. This number is even lower for women of color, of whom 73 were promoted to manager for every 100 men, down from 82 women of color last year.
  • Approximately 20% of women claim that flexibility helped them stay employed or avoid reducing their hours.
  • Women are twice as likely to be mistaken for someone junior and receive remarks about their emotional state.
  • Almost 80% of the women who face these microaggressions report that they adjust the way they look or act to protect themselves. These women are three times more likely to consider quitting their jobs and four times more likely to continually be burned out.

Further, according to Pew Research, in 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men did, a ratio similar to 2002, when women earned 80% as much as men.

Despite some setbacks, women provide tremendous value to their employers. Gender-diverse teams have been shown to have higher sales and profits than male-dominated teams, and diverse workforces are associated with:

  • Attracting and retaining top candidates
  • More innovation
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Improved customer service
  • Better decision-making and problem-solving

6 ways employers can #InspireInclusion

While progress has been made for women in the workplace, much more lies ahead. International Women’s Day is the biggest employee engagement day of the year, but employers can honor the holiday and make a difference in women’s lives daily in several ways.

1. Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

The first step toward addressing inequity is identifying it. Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace isn’t a one-time task that companies can check off a to-do list—it’s an ongoing journey.

If your business doesn’t already have one, consider establishing a DEI committee. Additionally, leveraging a workforce management software, like ExtensisHR’s DEI Dashboard, can help you monitor progress and outcomes from DEI initiatives by evaluating hires from previous years and providing real-time data regarding pay equity, salary trends across both race and gender demographics, employee turnover, promotions, and more.

2. Start at the top

It’s important that change is supported and communicated by top leadership in your organization.

Encourage executive leadership to communicate their commitment to gender equality by discussing the company’s DEI efforts in town halls, annual kickoff meetings, quarterly business reviews, and more.

3. Include women at every level

From job candidates to C-suite executives, involving women in every level of your business is imperative.

When it comes to recruiting, HR departments can build a hiring pipeline that includes women for every career level, from entry-level to executive-level positions. Similarly, leadership should proactively confirm that women are included in every department.

4. Focus on flexibility

Burnout continues to affect everyone, including many women. According to Future Forum, over 40% of workers feel burned out, and 46% of women are burned out (compared to 37% of men).

Employers can show they understand and accommodate a healthier work-life balance by providing flexibility, whether it’s through adjustable work hours, the choice to work remote or on a hybrid schedule, or the opportunity to change from full-time to part-time work.

Flexibility in particular can help businesses retain their staff who are mothers. The McKinsey research mentioned above found that 38% of mothers with young children say that without workplace flexibility, they would need to leave their company or reduce work hours.

5. Encourage collaboration

For women in any role, connecting with a female mentor can prove to be invaluable. Employers may consider offering mentorships both within and across different departments. It’s beneficial for women employees to tap into the knowledge and experience of those who came before them, even if that mentorship is unofficial or comes from outside the company. Additionally, businesses can set newly hired women up for success by involving them in virtual speed networking sessions where they can connect and create relationships with leadership and other colleagues.

Collaboration can also come in the form of support and resource groups. In addition to the communication methods outlined above, businesses can launch an internal women’s support group, where female workers meet regularly, host special guests, share experiences from their personal and professional lives, and more.

6. Offer two-way communication

Including women in various departments and career levels and offering work-life balance flexibility is important—but the need for those women to be heard is just as critical.

Businesses ought to establish formal channels for women (and all employees) to report any incidents of bias. These anonymous channels could include a tip box on the company intranet, a telephone hotline, or an email or text helpline. To ensure your workforce is aware of and comfortable using these tools, leadership should encourage employees to speak up and advocate for themselves (and others).

A partner in parity: how to empower women in the workplace by leveraging a PEO

Creating a more inclusive and accommodating workplace requires intentional and continuous planning, evaluating, and adapting. While the process may be complex, its benefits can positively impact every aspect of an organization. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate this path alone—a professional employer organization (PEO) can offer support at every stage of the journey.

A PEO provides a range of HR, employee benefits, and risk and compliance services to help you build a more diverse, woman-friendly work environment. For example, when you partner with ExtensisHR, you receive access to a dedicated HR Manager who can act as a sounding board for your DEI initiatives and help you create compliant policies on flexible working arrangements, mentorships, and more. Additionally, ExtensisHR offers a DEI Dashboard full of actionable, real-time data to help you make informed and impactful decisions.

The tools and resources you need to support women and #InspireInclusion at your business are just a click away. Contact the experts at ExtensisHR today.

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