How businesses can be more inclusive for women & how to nurture female employees

Article provided by Lisa Forde, Director, Dotty about Paper

My online stationery company, Dotty about Paper, employs an all-female team.

Although this was not a goal at the outset, the stationery market attracts many strong female applicants. As the team grew, it became clear how women can really benefit a business. Nurturing female talent has since become a huge part of Dotty about Paper. As National Inclusion Week shines the spotlight on diversity issues, now is the ideal time to review what your business is doing to help female employees.

Inclusivity for Women

Unfortunately, bias is still a reality many women face. Although it may not be intentional, stereotypes can stand in the way of a rewarding career. Even at the recruitment level, women may experience attitudes that make job-hunting difficult. Whereas a prospective employer might view a family man as dedicated, a married woman can be seen as a liability should she have children. Furthermore, many businesses can project a male-dominated work culture through their brand identity or use of language in job adverts, leading them to miss out on female candidates.

Creating an inclusive workplace culture is important to cutting out discrimination. Training your current staff is a good starting point. Educating the team on subliminal stereotyping, such as making assumptions based on gender, helps everyone treat their colleagues with respect.

As a mother and a business owner, I’ve faced the work-life balancing act myself. As such, I know the daily struggles of juggling your children and your career. Offering flexibility (within reason) for women is another step employers can take to create a non-discriminatory business. Balanced policies for maternity leave, fair pay, and flexible working for mothers can help you keep female talent in your team.

Encourage the women in your workplace to express their ideas during discussions. Many working women fear being labelled as ‘bossy’ when contributing their thoughts, so it’s important to make it clear everyone can participate. By taking an inclusive stance, you have the potential to welcome unique ideas and viewpoints that could really benefit your business. You can also have a positive effect by offering appropriate commendation for excellent work, as many women are hesitant about taking credit for their contributions.

Equality doesn’t mean your staff members are identical. Men and women have unique qualities that can boost your company in different ways. The same goes for individuals; as the employer of an all-female team, I’ve been able to work with women who each hold a diverse pool of skills. Keeping a well-rounded view of every team member lets you take advantage of their strengths and provide them with tailored training that will let them excel.

Nurturing Talent

As a female business leader, I’ve been lucky enough to help other women in their careers. Mentorship plays an important role in helping talent grow. If you hold a senior position, be ready to help with any questions. Sharing skills and knowledge will not only benefit others as they pursue their career, it will also lead to a more productive and efficient business as the team hones each other’s skills. In addition, teaching leadership skills, such as the ability to take calculated risks, helps women to pursue higher-level job roles.

Take the time to identify key strengths and weaknesses that your female employees possess. Assigning them roles that utilise their talents helps them excel while boosting the productivity of the business. But helping them overcome weaknesses through guidance and tips will let them continue to grow into a stronger employee. A diverse skillset equips them to progress their careers in the directions they want.

This level of tuition extends beyond practical skills. Showing interest in developing a female employee’s abilities will motivate them to continue engaging with their work, as it will show how great an impact their input can have on the business. At Dotty about Paper, our managers have experienced great benefits from working closely with young female talent and helping them achieve their best.

Ensure you create equal opportunity for progression, making the career ladder, training, and business benefits accessible for every employee. This will provide the motivation to succeed, rather than shutting out staff who could have the potential to grow into an even more valuable worker.

By taking these simple steps to promote inclusion for women, you can create a workplace that is both welcoming and productive. I’ve had first-hand experience of the benefits female talent can bring to a business, and the effort to nurture such talent is most definitely worth the rewards!

About the author

Lisa Forde is the Director of Dotty About Paper. Lisa is a leader in employee wellbeing and mental health and can discuss topics on the health implications of unequal pay, how to nurture your female employees, what wellbeing strategies small businesses should be implementing, balancing work and family life and women in business advice.

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