What are those initiatives that empower women at work

What are those initiatives that empower women at work?

It is important to nurture a climate of support and safety at the workplace, especially in support of the vulnerable populations at work to ensure a safe and equitable workplace.

But what kind of such initiatives can be empowering to the body of women who are part of the workplace?

We must remember that for change to be effective, it must be sustained and truly respond to the challenges and unique life stressors experienced by women.

Here are a few examples of efforts that leaders can take within their organisation to support and empower the women at work!

1. Create space for women’s voices:

Recognising that women have a different set of challenges and obstacles to growth at work, to have regular check ins, through surveys, Focused Group Discussion (FGDs) and one on ones. These endeavours will create a neutral space where women’s voices can be heard and allow for leadership to intervene effectively.

2. Flexible approach:

As organisations, it becomes important to be able to create space for flexibility, in response to women’s changing situations and the multiple roles they take on at various points of time. This may be through life changes like pregnancy and motherhood, illness in the household, eldercare, single parenthood, adoption, health, etc.

Programs and policies need to reflect the understanding of women’s realities in such that there is no space for bias or discrimination to reflect at the workplace and flexible working situations are treated as the rights of an employee, and not as a “problem” or excuse.

In this case, the way that efficiency, productivity, creativity and growth are valued and measured will also need to be clearly defined.

Adjustments made through such flexible approaches could be : flexitime, remote working opportunities, part time offers, taking a sabbatical etc.

3. Inclusive and progressive policy:

Policies need to reflect the progressive and inclusive stance of the organisation, with a focus on levelling the field truly by creating space for equal opportunity, building equity amongst the team, minimizing bias and creating safe workspaces for women.

Organisations must focus on building robust anti-sexual harassment and anti-discrimination policies with training and awareness programs on expected behaviours, consent and bias at work.

There is a need to go further and review existing policies from the perspective of equity, whether it comes to leave policies, caregiver policies, rewards and recognition polices, insurance policies etc, to ensure that they feature and respond to women’s unique realities. Policies should value and promote work life balance as well.

Care must also be taken to review internal growth and development SOPS and practices, and to train management and leaders to be aware of unconscious bias and it’s impact to growth and development. Opportunities for women to grow into leadership roles should be worked out and introduced to the team on a regular basis as well.

4. Expand spaces that offer support internally:

It is essential to set up internal processes for wellbeing and support and increase women’s access to mental health support services within the context of work. This could look like building strong mentorship programs for leadership development, creating space for capacity building and leadership development through workshops, talks and programs, building robust buddy systems that work, offering onsite counselling and legal support for trauma, sexual violence / assault and Domestic Violence, access to EAP services and therapeutic support and even through the formation of ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) for women.

5. Support leadership and growth:

It is essential to support women’s leadership and growth within the organisation. This could look like reviewing the internal SOPS around the appraisal process, creating objective and specific metrics to measure success and growth, and training the leadership team to be able to remove or at least be aware of bias against women that may be present in the hiring / career progression opportunities.

Investing in training and development, supporting women to build their leadership skills required through coaching and mentorship, assigning more women to special projects and assignments, with support as required per policy, supporting opportunities for ensuring worklife balance, etc. are also essential to promoting women’s leadership at work,

Written By Rosanna Rodrigues and Samriti Makkar Midha

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