By Jen Locklear, Chief Talent Officer, ConnectWise
A recent study by McKinsey & Company on women in the workplace found that despite efforts to improve gender diversity over the past four years, a large disparity still remains within many organisations.
This begs the question of why? In many cases it can be boiled down to a simple lack of foresight when it comes to creating working environments that attract and encourage female employees. There’s a lot more to consider than just annual leave and health care packages, but this is often where the thinking stops. However, by extending that thinking to include areas such as company culture, lines of communication and internal support networks, a more fun, friendly and enjoyable environment can quickly be established. Below are just a few areas to think about to help women flourish and making gender equality more prominent in the organisation.
Build internal support groups around common interests
One of the most effective ways to drive positive change is through the establishment of internal support groups that are dedicated to helping colleagues succeed, both on a business and personal level. For instance, many companies have lunch groups focussed around things like parenting, which allow different people within the company to come together through a common interest. Groups like this can quickly grow into powerful communities of support, full of like-minded women (and men) who can use their shared experience to help out others, wherever needed.
Throw the lines of communication wide open
The easier it is for women to voice concerns and share feedback, the faster any issues can be addressed. One of the best ways to open up clear and transparent lines of communication is using technology. There are numerous great apps available today that allow employees to give real-time, confidential feedback to HR or other management groups on anything from ongoing projects to personal issues. One tool we use at ConnectWise measures the levels of happiness and frustration employees are feeling, offering colleagues the chance to provide anonymous feedback. The goal is to eventually evolve the company’s culture into one where everyone is comfortable providing honest feedback to each other. Platforms like this can also be used to benchmark company mood on a regular basis and quickly identify anything that could have a serious impact on overall productivity levels.
Bring different cultures together
Especially useful in large multinational companies, the creation of culture clubs can ensure that employees from across the entire organisation feel more connected to each other, regardless of gender, race or geographic location. A key focus for these clubs should be identifying areas of the company’s existing culture where there’s room for improvement and working with senior management to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone over time.
Invest in the mental and emotional health of all employees
It’s the job of every HR department to ensure all employees are properly looked after, both physically and mentally. To help with this, we recently launched a new emotional support application called Ginger.io, which offers free, round-the-clock behavioural health coaching to every employee, as well as one of their dependants. Tools like this can provide unique and much-valued assistance to anyone who may be going through emotional difficulties that they aren’t comfortable sharing internally, and/or doesn’t have the resources to seek external help for. Investing in the mental and emotional health of your workforce is one of the best ways to support personal growth and development, which can be a huge driver of a company’s long-term success.
Intense media focus, combined with a concerted effort by many organisations to improve gender equality has had a significant positive impact in recent years, but there’s still a long way left to go before true parity is achieved. While the number of women breaking through glass ceilings is rising at an encouraging rate, particularly in the tech space, the onus remains with employers to ensure the proper network and environment is in place to nurture their talents. The points mentioned above highlight several ways this can be achieved, and while the list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a great place to start for any organisation that’s serious about helping more women to flourish for a gender equal workplace.
About the author
Jen Locklear is Chief Talent Officer for ConnectWise. She has responsibility for engaging and developing high-performing ConnectWise colleagues, facilitating a professional environment that cultivates dynamic teams obsessed with partner success, and helping individuals grow and meet their career goals.
Prior to joining to ConnectWise in 2016, Jen held leadership positions at WilsonHCG as chief people and culture officer, and at Healthesystems as vice president of human relations.
Jen has earned her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Senior Certified Professional (SCP) certifications as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. She has served on the board of directors for Tampa Connection, and was recognized by HR Shield and the Tampa Tribune as one of the top Tampa Bay human resources professionals.
In her spare time, Jen spends time with her husband Jon and their three children in Tampa, Fla. She also has participated in mission trips to Uganda and the Dominican Republic.
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