Tackling workplace inequality | The power of women’s career networks

networking

By Annabel Jones, HR Director at ADP UK

It’s no secret that women are severely underrepresented at the C-suite level of businesses, and in senior roles in general.

While women in leadership positions are on the rise, it’s not yet even close to being on par with men. Diversity and inclusion in the workforce aren’t just buzzwords – they are essential to building an engaged and motivated workforce. At ADP, diversity is a core part of the business model, ensuring that the company reflects the global market place it serves.

An important part of this inclusion is ADP’s internal group iWIN – the International Women’s Inclusion Network. The network aims to empower women across all levels of the organisation, providing mentorship, opportunities to listen to speakers, and a place to develop both personal and professional relationships with other women at ADP.

The network is open to both men and women and we believe this is an important facet of the group. While the group is focused on furthering women in their careers, including men in the conversation is essential in order for them to be aware of and understand the workplace challenges that women may face. While the vast majority of males employees do not purposefully acting in a discriminatory way, the issues around unconscious bias can affect us all. Groups such as iWIN are important in heightening both male and female employees’’ awareness and making us think more carefully about our actions.

Such groups also provide other important functions, such as helping women to find mentors, allowing them to hear from female leaders both within and outside of ADP, and ensuring they can develop their professional networks. While many businesses have internal communities or network groups, it is important that the networks go beyond just socialising and provide tangible and effective resources for women in order to help them advance their careers and their organisations.

Another important part of these groups is making sure the conversations that take place within the group, which can act as a safe space to share concerns and obstacles, eventually reach the wider company. Women’s groups are an excellent resource but only if the internal power is harnessed to effect change. For example, at ADP, iWIN is backed up by a wider support system of workplace flexibility, support for working mothers, and representation of women in senior leadership positions.

Women’s networks are an invaluable resource for connecting women to each other and opening up important discussions, and I would encourage all companies to consider starting a group – no matter how formal or informal it is. The key thing though is to consider how you take forward the ideas that arise to in order to make tangible progress and reap the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

About the author

Annabel Jones joined ADP UK as HR Director in 2014. She leads the HR function for approximately 800 employees, and is responsible for the development of strategies related to areas such as pay and performance, talent management and corporate social responsibility.

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