*Written for MyOps, a consulting company for mortgage brokers aiming to launch soon. The tone had to be light and entertaining.*
Four tips to make your workplace more inclusive to women
Year in, year out, studies all around the globe lament over the lack of women in senior roles, notably in the finance sector. Many people have debated the many ways to close the gender gap but very few have mused over how the workplace could be improved to become a more attractive environment for women. We thought the latter was way more productive than the former, so, in today’s post, we reveal to you four ways to make women more at ease in your company.
Allowing your employee to have a life outside work
Back in 2015, PEW published a study demonstrating that parenthood tended to have negative repercussion on women’s career. A swift perusal around the web will show you that to this day, for most women, fear of suffering from “motherhood penalty” is still one of their major career anxieties. Losing opportunities, being downgraded after maternity leave, exclusion from important projects are but a few of the trials women are likely to face if they decide to start a family. But because you want to be an awesome employer adored by its staff and because you want to stay on the right side of the law, your company won’t discriminate against mothers after they return from parental leave, right? Despite having spread like wildfire, there isn’t any proof behind the belief that expecting mothers and women who have children work less hard or less efficiently than those who don’t. However, it’s true that they might need some extra help to adjust their work schedule to their other commitments. Introducing flexible hours or remote working in your workplace could be a great way to solve this issue. Besides, it will also benefit other workers.
Making provision for nursing mothers
Nursing mothers within your workplace may need a private space where they can express milk without intrusion. It might not be obvious, especially if your workplace is oestrogen deficient, but having such a room at their disposition will make life easier for your female employees. Plus, in case you didn’t know, the law is trailing your shadow on that one. Following the amendments made to the Sex Discrimination 1985 Act in 2011, employers may be penalised if they refuse to make arrangement for nursing mothers such as not allowing breaks to breastfeed or express milk or by not providing adequate facilities where both activities can be performed. Here’s a tip: get a fridge in that room for those who may want to store milk bottle for later use.
Making sure that your staff knows basic decency
That one may seem like a no-brainer, but we stress the importance of recruiting only staff that doesn’t try to hit on anything that looks female within a 5 miles’ radius. Remember the hand to yourself policy! If you chance upon a worker getting too close for comfort to a female employee without even having a glass of wine or two too many, consider it a red flag. Actually, there are a few other things that should raise your hackles: salacious jokes, catcalls, intense staring… Basically, anything that doesn’t belong in the Normal Person rulebook.
Developing a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment
Even more shocking than the fact that sexual harassment is still a factor in the year 2017, is the fact that often accusation are met with a slap on the wrist and a apologetic “He’s always had a problem…”, if the case isn’t buried under bureaucracy. That is, if the case is reported at all. Often due to embarrassment, fear of not being believed, or a belief that it can negatively affect their employment, women don’t report sexual abuse or harassment. That’s why, if a case come up, you need to strike hard and fast. It will prevent reoccurrence, and even more important, it will build trust between your employees and your company.
In the end, organisations develop a positive company culture and image by sticking to the values they believe in. More than fighting for justice, taking a stand against gender discrimination and sexual harassment is about choosing the type of employer you want to be and how you want to be remembered by your employees. So, who do you want to be?