For the Girls: How to Support Your Female Employees

Two women writing on whiteboard.

Alright, everyone. It’s 2021, and it’s high time we had a little chat.

Gender inequality. It’s still a thing. It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re wrapping up our celebration of Women in the Workplace with a blog post we hope will help shed some light on that issue, especially during these (yup, we’re going to say it again) unprecedented times.

The pandemic has been a huge challenge for everyone, regardless of gender identity. But, women have felt a great deal of the pain. According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, women are 1.8 times as likely to lose their job in a Covid economy. In fact, 54% of all jobs lost in 2020 belonged to women. Want to know why these stats are so high? Pre-existing gender-based biases, inequalities, and norms.

Given these statistics, we wanted to share a candid, no-bullshit, non-exhaustive list of ways you can better support the female-identifying employees that work with you.

Challenge “Likeability” Bias

We have ALL seen the pattern. Traits that are typically desirable for a man are seen as less desirable for a woman. When a man is “confident” and “assertive,” a woman is “bossy” or “bitchy.”

Lean In refers to this as the “Likability Bias.” There’s a ton of research to back this bias up, as case studies have shown time and time again that, for women, likability and success at work are not positively correlated.

The action item here is to be aware of the biases in “likable” traits between men and women. If you catch yourself calling a woman “bossy,” take a step back and ask yourself if she’s just being confident and assertive. Awareness is the first step to changing our biases, so be sure you’re being intentional about your interactions with co-workers and the opinions you form as a result.

Create a Safe Space

This action item is a big part of company culture, something we’d like to think we know a bit about here at DotConnect.

An environment that fosters open and honest communication is one of the hardest things to establish in a company culture. And, while it may seem like a very obvious goal for a company to have, it’s truly easier said than done. It relies very heavily on each and every member of your team being respectful, intentional, and understanding in order to be completely aligned with that goal.

Open communication is vital to a healthy and productive work environment. Encourage women to communicate openly about their needs, without the risk of feeling like they will be fired. For instance – a woman should never have to feel afraid to come to their employer asking for maternity leave.

If you’re not sure if your team feels comfortable communicating their needs, just ask them. An anonymous survey is a good place to start.

Here’s a great resource from the Forbes Coaches Council and another from the American Management Association on how you can start to build a safe space for your team. We also have a blog post on building company culture that you can check out here!

Ensure Equal Pay

This one’s pretty obvious, but we figured we’d throw it in here. Did you know that, on average, a Latina woman only makes $0.54 to a white man’s dollar? We’ve gotta fix that!

Diversify Your Leadership

It’s really difficult to foster an environment that encourages female-identifying employees to work for growth and higher positions in the company when there is little to no female representation in management positions. Make sure you have women in leadership roles that are actively involved in all the decisions your organization makes, from the day-to-day decisions to the big industry moves.

And, make sure this includes diversity in all under-represented groups! That means different races, disabilities, genders… Make sure you are thinking about all the different layers of what underrepresentation means.

Company culture starts with your leadership. If your leadership reflects what you want your company to represent, you’ll attract the right kinds of people.

Have concrete goals and make a concerted effort to recruit more diverse job candidates, especially for leadership positions within your team. This is something we’re really passionate about here at DotConnect.

Another great way to diversify your leadership is to encourage growth from within your company! Leading us to our next point…

Support [Female-Identifying] Professional Growth

Mentor and support your female-identifying and underrepresented employees!

Encourage growth and promotion. Start a mentoring program so that your new hires can learn from those making the big decisions in your company. Teach your team what they need to know to climb the ladder if that’s what they desire.

Resources and access to education opportunities are a big part of career development. Make sure you’re fostering that opportunity, every chance you can get! Equal opportunity is the first step in diversifying your leadership and your team overall.

We hope you’ll take these practices and continue to support and celebrate the women on your team far beyond March 31st!