Supporting Women in the Workplace | International Womens Day 2024

Women represent 47.7% of the workforce globally, yet the proportion of women in senior leadership is only 32.2%.

On average, businesses with female CEOs generate higher profits than those with male CEOs. Despite this, there is a clear lack of female representation as you climb up the corporate ladder. One of the clearest examples being that only 10% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.

But why does this happen? There are a variety of reasons including…

  • Gender bias
  • Lack of role models and/or support
  • Lack of flexible working options not allowing for good work-life balance
  • Stereotypes and expectations of what a leader looks like
  • Limited access to networks and opportunities

How can a business properly support women in the workplace?

Pay equity and equal access to new opportunities

The gender pay gap in the UK for full-time employees was 7.7% in 2023. Ensuring your team is being paid fairly is not only good for employee retention but is also the law. Staff should be given equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.

Flexible working options

It is more common for women to take on caregiving responsibilities than men, which can massively impact their access to the workforce. Offering options for a more flexible working pattern can allow for a more diverse team and has even been proven to increase productivity and commitment to the business.

This can be offered in many different forms including, but not limited to:

  • Remote/hybrid set-ups
  • Flexi-hours (possibly with core working hours)
  • Job shares
  • Compressed work week
  • Multiple options for start and finish times

Leadership development or mentorship opportunities

A lack of diversity in leadership can limit opportunities for advancement. To combat this, you can implement leadership development programmes or organise mentorships to support women into more senior roles.

These can be tailored to specific barriers faced within an individual’s position or business as a whole.

Enhanced maternity leave

Enhanced maternity pay is a great way to show your team that you are committed to them. This increases the likelihood of them returning to work after having a child. The cost of replacing an employee can be far more than this, from recruitment fees to training, but also in terms of a change in team dynamics.

Female health policies

A fairly new benefit that many businesses are now beginning to introduce is one related to female health. Menopause and menstruation policies such as the option to remote work or a set number of additional leave days when struggling with symptoms related to menopause or menstruation can make female staff feel more valued.

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