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7 ways to lift up other women in your workplace
Tips and advice (iStock/PA)
Some key advice for female leaders.
Let’s face it, even on the best of days the workplace can feel like a testosterone-filled, dog-eat-dog environment, and if you’re a woman that’s just starting out on the ladder or struggling to get the recognition you deserve for your work, it can be a pretty frustrating place to be.
The impact of women supporting other women can make a big difference to workplace culture though; it can help to develop, retain and promote the best female talent into those elusive top-tier positions that have traditionally been dominated by men.
While statistics have found that the share of women in senior roles globally is increasing incrementally, according to Catalyst, women still only account for 29% of senior management roles worldwide, and as a consequence, workplaces are less representative of our society as a whole. Plus, the gender pay gap is still very much a thing in 2023.
We’ve found some key ways that senior female staff can pay it forward and help to lift up other qualified women in their workplace.
1. Be an advocate for other women
Unfortunately, sexism still exists in some workplaces, which is why women need to be champions for each other’s successes.
Whether it’s the colleague who filed an amazing report or someone in your team that went above and beyond the call of duty, shout about their wins and make sure everyone in the room is aware of their talents.
A Hewlett Packard study found that men tend to apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, whereas women will only apply if they’re sure they meet 100% of them. If you know a woman in your team that’s more than up to an open job role, be the one to suggest throwing her name into the ring for a promotion.
2. Avoid using discriminatory language
It’s that age-old trope: when men speak up in a meeting they’re assertive and authoritarian, but when a woman does the same she’s bossy or a battleaxe.
Remember that the culture of an organisation or a department tends to trickle down from the top, and the views of a single manager or senior member of staff can have a direct impact on whether a woman feels valued enough to stay.
Be mindful of your language and if you see sexism happening in your team, call it out to HR – let others know that it won’t be tolerated.
3. Create an encouraging environment
A recent study by Access Commercial Finance found that over over six in 10 women suffer with impostor syndrome – a psychological fear that you’re incompetent at your job and could be outed as a ‘fraud’ at any moment. The best way to help women to manage their self doubt is to provide a friendly and open working environment where everyone’s opinions feel valued, and it’s OK to try things and not succeed the first time.
Remember that some people are better written communicators and can feel intimidated by boardroom scenarios, especially ones that involve lots of big characters jostling for attention. Give introverts the opportunity to contribute their ideas via email, as well as face-to-face, as they may feel more confident putting pen to paper.
4. Help them to realise their goals
Each person is different and will have a unique set of career goals, yet many managers still don’t know what their staff’s five-year ambitions are. Research by Dominican University of California shows that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
Sitting down and setting some quarterly objectives together can be a big benefit to both staff and the company. It’s a way to keep employees working hard towards an overarching company goal and it can be an opportunity to motivate staff by explaining what they need do to level up to higher positions and pay bands.
5. Host workshops for women to talk about the challenges they face
You won’t know how to help women overcome the obstacles in their way if you’re not sure what they are.
A simple idea could be to host regular workshops where the women in your company discuss the road map to success and any barriers that might stand in their way.
6 Don’t sideline mothers
Flexible working conditions are especially helpful for single parents, carers and women who typically tend to take on more of the care-giving duties.
Put policies in place that enable mothers to thrive in their careers and at home with their families – whether that’s creating work share roles, offering work from home days or providing access to childcare (or a decent enough salary that makes it an option).
Above all, make sure the mums in your workforce don’t feel like they’re being sidelined or left to stagnate in a role because they chose to start a family.
7. Become a mentor
If you’re a woman that’s beat the odds and smashed the glass ceiling to secure a senior leadership role, the likelihood is that you’ll have loads of invaluable experience to pass on to junior members of staff who want to follow in your footsteps.
In fact, according to McCarthy Mentoring, 25% of employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared to only 5% of workers who didn’t participate.
Whether it’s tips for getting your voice heard, what to do if you experience sexism or how to ask for that difficult pay rise, becoming a mentor can be a hugely rewarding and fulfilling experience that can arm other women with the tools to run in the workplace and, ultimately, join you at the top.