You don’t have to be the CEO to be in a position to promote women in the workplace. It’s important that we all try to contribute towards a culture that is focused on helping women succeed at work.
Why it makes more ‘cents’ to empower women at work…
Joanne Gould, Chief Operating Officer at The Twinsaver Group, explains, ‘The benefits that women bring to the work environment are numerous and a great example of this is the findings by Morgan Stanley Capital International which revealed that companies with female leaders produced a Return on Equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without.’
Plus, women statistically are more likely to contribute towards an ambitious, dedicated workforce. Research indicates that 58% of women aspire to reach senior management, compared to only 48% of men2, and get half the remuneration men do, even though they work an extra three hours a week4.
Here are 6 ways that every working woman, junior or senior, can help other women succeed at work:
1. Celebrate milestones
Whether they’re your own milestones or goals other people have achieved in your organisation, accomplishments should be celebrated — publicly. Women are more likely to brush off recognition and praise, giving credit to their colleagues or explaining away their achievements.
Let’s celebrate our achievements at work by promoting everyone’s accomplishments. When you’re introducing a colleague, mention her outstanding sales record. If someone on your team wins an award, celebrate with cake. Lee-Anne Bac (Director: Advisory Services at Grant Thornton) says, “it may be difficult, but don’t downplay your success to others — yes that means bragging!”.
2. Mentor, sponsor and promote
Having someone to turn to for career advice and support is immensely helpful for career advancement, but sponsorship might be even more important. Sponsors are in a position to advocate for their junior colleagues, maybe putting their names forward for a project or committee.
If you’re in a position to be a sponsor, look out for promising female employees and build a relationship with them. If you’re looking for a sponsor, take a leap and invite someone for coffee. And if you’re in a junior position, you can still be a mentor to women who have just started working — they don’t necessarily have to be from your organisation.
3. Speak up
Women are interrupted more in meetings, are perceived as more emotional than men, are dismissed when they raise gender-related complaints and are more likely to encounter sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you see women experiencing any of this, speak up! When you remind co-workers that you’d like to hear Linda finish her idea, Linda benefits and you’re seen as a leader.
4. Encourage risks
According to LeanIn.org, men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the hiring criteria, while women wait until they meet 100%. This means women stay in the same positions for longer, instead of applying for and moving into more senior positions with better pay.
Wherever you can, encourage the women around you to go for it. If a colleague is worried about heading a new project, suggest some websites she can check out to help her prepare. Offer to help female coworkers prepare for interviews or salary negotiations. Identify leadership opportunities for women to give them a chance to shine.
5. Give and receive feedback
Direct and specific feedback can be critical for career advancement.
If your position allows it, share constructive feedback with junior employees and colleagues as often as possible. Try and make the feedback as specific as possible and related to outcomes.
You should also welcome feedback when you receive it, and if you don’t get it often enough, ask for it! Something as simple as asking what could be done differently next time or how to improve a presentation can encourage loads of great advice.
6. Treating diversity as a game changer
Try creating a more supportive environment for both men and women; an office that acknowledges their whole selves as people and employees. If you’re in a management position, try introducing flexibility in terms of work hours and location (a big plus for moms and dads everywhere), sabbaticals or extended maternity/paternity leave.
Of course, with flexibility comes responsibility, but studies have shown that happy employees are more productive, engaged, motivated and loyal – a win-win for everyone! Plus, technological advancements have made it easier for people to be productive outside the office.
1. Bain & Company Report – Gender Disparity in South Africa (May 2017)
2. Fin24 article – 2016 Gender equality report: SA shines, illustrates BRICS cultural divide