How to effectively empower other women at work

Group of happy businesswomen, empowering women at work

Did you know that around 80% of women experience microaggressions at work? These can include anything from pregnancy discrimination to having their accomplishments doubted, and are often experiences that men simply don’t have to deal with.

For women, though, they can be killers of motivation and self-esteem, turning a normal work day into a living nightmare. So, what can we do to stop it from happening?

One solution is for all employees to learn how to empower women in the workplace. Whether you’re a manager, a female colleague, or a man looking to make a difference, we’ve put together some of the best ways you can lift up the women around you.

Leave room for women to speak

In a survey of female business leaders, 46% agreed that it was difficult for women to be heard in executive meetings. This isn’t just a Zoom problem, either, but one that’s been prevalent in working environments since the dawn of business. Women don’t feel as listened to as men, and it’s often because they simply aren’t.

If you’re leading a meeting, be sure that women have their turn to talk. Don’t allow others to talk over them or interrupt, and make it clear that everyone is entitled to time to speak. If you think a woman in your meeting might have something to say but isn’t speaking up, ask them. By actively bringing women into the conversation, you’re showing them that their voices matter and they have a platform to speak their minds.

For colleagues in meetings, stand up for women trying to talk. If they’re interrupted, point it out and re-direct the conversation their way. Support anyone who does speak up by making eye contact as they talk, not speaking over them, and acknowledging good ideas.

Provide female-focused support

Every workplace should have solid support in place for everyone. It’s important to remember however that the problems faced by women can be very different to those faced by men.

Women can struggle with hormonal changes during menopause, for example, or find it difficult to work whilst pregnant. With three hundred different mental health conditions to be aware of, training senior members of staff to provide the correct support when women come to them for help is vital for female empowerment.

Providing female-focused mental health support is a must, and an understanding of mental health problems can enable empathetic communication in the workplace.

Diversify managerial positions

Not everyone is in a position to hire or promote staff, but if you are then do make an effort to be gender inclusive. No company should have just men or women in positions of power, yet a study from McKinsey & Company showed that only 86 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men promoted to the same level – meaning fewer women available for promotion at even higher levels. Don’t let this happen in your workforce.

When looking for someone to fill a managerial position, look for both men and women. If there aren’t any suitable female candidates inside your company, make an effort to look elsewhere.

Representation of women in senior positions is crucial to empowering all women in your company, and if you consistently promote men then you’ll be at risk of discrimination accusations.

Be a champion for change

Whether you’re a new employee or a senior manager, you can always champion a better environment for women in the workplace. If you see areas that could be improved, speak up! For example, if you’ve noticed that all the managers are men, bring attention to it and ask why. If there’s a culture of toxic masculinity in your department, let senior staff know and call out negative behaviour.

Sometimes, one person speaking up can make other women feel confident to do the same. Whether you’re male or female, always call out workplace discrimination and be a pioneer for positive change.

Celebrate one another’s strengths

Empowering women in the workplace can come in many forms, but one of the easiest practices to establish is recognising strengths. When a woman shows a talent in a specific area or completes a difficult task well, cheer for them! Let them know they’ve done a fantastic job and that you recognise they’re skilled. For many years, women’s achievements were underappreciated or not acknowledged at all, so let’s make up for that now by making sure to celebrate female work.

Mentor other women

When you’ve been working in an industry for some time, you can become a mentor to lesser experienced staff. In particular, you can help women move up the ladder. If you see that your company has taken on a new female employee, let them know that you’re there if they have any questions or would like any help. Don’t force your advice on them – they may not need it! But make sure they’re aware that it’s there if they want it.

Sometimes, mentoring can be as simple as providing a new female colleague with someone to talk to. Entering a workplace can be intimidating, but by making yourself a friendly face, you can ease their anxiety and boost their confidence. Other times, mentoring can mean helping your colleague to excel by going out of your way to teach them. Regardless of the form, being a supportive friend who’s ready to help can make all the difference to women in the workplace.

Final words

Although gender inclusivity in the UK workforce is miles better than it used to be, we still have a long way to go! Until women are just as comfortable, confident, and listened to as men, we all need to do our bit to empower and encourage. Hopefully, these tips have given you some inspiration. Now it’s time to get out there and support the great women you work with!

Gemma WilliamsAbout the author

Gemma Williams is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in several HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts in career development and employee engagement. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaWilliamsHR


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