Here’s a math problem that doesn’t quite add up: There are over 6 million jobs available in the U.S. today, yet more and more females are leaving the workplace. Another variable to add to the equation is the fact that, according to Gallup, only 35% of female employees are engaged in their jobs, and nearly half of women say they are looking for or considering new jobs.
The answer is actually simple: There is a growing need for business owners to do more when it comes to gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. In fact, Hawaii women who work full-time, year-round earn 83 cents on the dollar compared to men. If this trend continues in Hawaii, women will not see equal pay until the year 2051.
While there have been great strides made by women in the workplace in the past few decades, they are still overwhelmingly underrepresented when it comes to holding top leadership positions.
The numbers don’t lie, so let’s look at a few recent findings:
- Only one-third of men and women say their workplace is balanced in terms of gender (Pew Research)
- Forty-five percent of working women say they would like to become CEO or have a position in senior management or leadership (Gallup)
- Yet, women hold only about 10% of the top executive positions at U.S. companies (Pew Research)
Numerous studies show that gender-diverse teams outperform expectations. Gallup lists the following advantages as benefits of gender diversity:
- Differing viewpoints, ideas, and insights allow for better problem solving, leading to superior business performance
- Ability to serve an increasingly diverse customer base with varying needs
- Helps companies attract and retain talented women
So how can leadership develop a gender-diverse workplace and reap the benefits of one?
Have an open and honest conversation with your workforce. From company culture to promotions to access to leadership, ask your team how they experience your workplace. This feedback can be extremely insightful in planning and developing employee engagement. Identifying challenges can also act as a catalyst to what shifts and policies are necessary in order to attract and retain women.
Family Friendly Culture
Many programs and policies, like maternity and paternity leave, that were once differentiators are now quickly becoming the norm. For employers to truly support men and women in the workplace environment, leadership needs to take a hard look at how they allow for work-life balance. Whether it is flexible scheduling or parental leave policies, employer policies supporting work-life balance are important to women and can go a long way in retaining top employees.
One of the most crucial factors for career growth is mentorship and connections. And a lack of support from mentors or access to networking opportunities can keep women from advancing in the workplace. It’s important for business leaders to not only develop employee coaching programs, but to encourage and cultivate strong bonds between genders and roles.
The importance of gender diversity in the workplace boils down to one main point: Engaging women in the workforce drives bottom-line growth and high-level innovation for all types of organizations. As a business leader, it’s important to examine your organization's culture and practices compared to the desires of today's professional women in order to be exceptional when competing for – and retaining – the best talent today.