6 ways you can support women in the workplace
By: Roxanne Tashjian, SVP Global Sales Effectiveness and Optimization, Monster
Choose to challenge. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is truly built for today’s pandemic-driven world–and it’s a call to action for supporting women at work. A world where 2.2 million women have left the U.S. labor market since the beginning of the pandemic. A world where pre-pandemic, two-thirds of U.S. families were two-income households, and 41% of mothers were the breadwinners. A world where female managers earn 23% less than male managers. In a year of change for most, it’s brought on mostly challenges for women.
As we “choose to challenge” what got us here and demand it never happens again, the biggest shifts must start at work – both in getting women back to it after the pandemic and ensuring they have a path for growth when they get there.
As the executive sponsor of the Women@Monster Employee Resource Group and a member of our Executive Leadership Team, I am in the unique position of having a seat at the table that both drives these changes internally at our company, as well as setting the strategy externally to find people work they truly love. In straddling those two roles, International Women’s Week becomes important not just to highlight inequities and celebrate all of our accomplishments, but to set an actionable agenda for the year, ultimately driving towards change for women everywhere, in every role.
Where do we start?
In 2021, we should be building on the progress of the past decades, continuing to challenge the status quo, elevate one another and build allies at work. But with women leaving the workforce at 4x the rate of men during the pandemic, we’ve got to redouble our efforts. We have to build back what’s been lost with corporate strategies that consider the root cause of the issue alongside the nuances of today’s new remote world. With that in mind, we must start here:
1. Give employees flexibility in their workday
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to help every family navigate the issues of caregiving in their own home. For that reason, providing flexibility becomes all the more important to building an inclusive work culture that understands employees are first people with responsibilities beyond their work. Here’s how we’ve handled it here at Monster.
2. Provide support for working parents
As Aline Holzwarth said in a recent Forbes article, equity in the workplace requires equity in caregiving. I am a board member of Child Care Aware of America, the nation’s leading voice on child care, and I believe we need to work together to build a child care system that effectively serves all children and families.
It is critical that we work together to transform the childcare system. Families are struggling to patch together childcare solutions, work schedules, and their children’s needs to learn remotely. Employees – disproportionally women – are dropping out of the workforce due to the lack of childcare; in fact, the number of women citing childcare or family responsibilities as the reason for departing their jobs is up 178% during the pandemic. This trend negatively impacts employers across the board by greatly limiting their talent pool and creating an uneven playing field as leaders grow within the organization.
3. Reverse pay inequities across the board
In a recent Monster survey, 74% of women believe there is a pay gap at their company, while 73% of men believe there isn’t. That statistic is alarming, as study after study shows us not just that there is a perceived wage gap, but an actual, wide one. On average, women make 23% less than men globally – and it’s far worse for women of color, with that average ballooning to 38% for Black women and 45% for Latinas.
4. Expect more from our allies
Gender inequality is not solely a women’s issue, but also an economic one (if women were paid fairly, we could cut the poverty rate in half and inject $512.6 billion into the U.S. economy alone) and a business one (gender inequities sink profitability outcomes). Additionally, more than half of women (58%) say they would turn down a job at a company that does not include women in leadership roles. In short, gender biases and inequities are not solely the responsibilities of women to change; our male colleagues must be active participants in the process. HBR clearly lays out four tangible ways for male allies to make these changes, including the validation and normalization of women’s experiences in the workplace.
5. Support all women in their personal and professional goals:
Ensure you have at least two women in the pool of candidates – including (and especially) internal promotions to leadership roles. It’s the “two in the pool effect:” having two women in the pool of final candidates increases the chances of a woman being hired by 79.4%. In making that “short list” longer, more women will be placed in more roles, pulling more seats up to the table.
6. Normalize nonlinear career paths
We must eliminate employment gap bias across the board. Candidates with a gap have a 45% less chance of receiving an interview than those without them. Whether leaving work to care for family, assessing career trajectory, or just needing a mental health break, an employment gap does not mean a candidate is less worthy or less skilled.
Lifting each other up, all year long
When we “choose to challenge,” this week and beyond, I truly believe change is possible if we all aim to reach a common goal. Above, I’ve laid out some of the tactics organizations and individuals can use to begin making these changes today. At Monster, we recently produced a report on strategies companies can take to support women at work. It’s based on global research we conducted to get a true sense of the challenges facing women following COVID-19. You can download the report here.