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5 Ways to Create an Inclusive Work Environment for Women

When you consider creating an inclusive work environment, you may automatically think about ways to make your organization more welcoming for people from different racial and cultural backgrounds. While this is certainly important to do, it's equally important to remember that women in the workplace have specific needs, concerns, and ideas about what inclusion means to them—and how companies can help them feel included on a day-to-day basis. 

Although there's no doubt that women have made great strides in the workplace over the decades, there's still a long way to go. According to the Pew Research Center, as recently as 2020, working women were still only earning 84 percent of what their male counterparts did—which means women would have to work an additional 42 days a year to make the pay between women and men equal. In addition, women still don't necessarily get the same opportunities for advancement as men, and Harvard Business Review reports that only 4.1 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women.

The inequities don't end with compensation and advancement, however. Every day, many women feel unseen and unheard in their workplaces, to the point where they don't feel that their opinions about what goes on at work are validated or valued—and in some cases, women fear they can't voice their thoughts at all without repercussions. 

All of these issues boil down to the need for more inclusivity for women in the workplace—and the importance of keeping their concerns in mind.

5 Tips for Creating an Inclusive Work Environment for Women

Whether you’re creating a diversity, equity, and inclusion plan for the first time, or making adjustments to a current plan, the women in your workplace should be considered in your initiatives. The following are five ways to create an inclusive work environment for women, which will help you meet your D&I goals.

1. Implement Women-Friendly Policies

The bedrock of any successful DEI plan is the policies that your organization adopts. Policies should address the issues that women are concerned about, such as sexual harassment, lack of advancement, and equal pay. Having these kinds of policies in place will let all employees know diversity and equity are expected in your organization, and being inclusive for women is a priority.

2. Adopt Inclusive Hiring Practices

In order to hire great talent, you have to adopt inclusive hiring practices that make your workplace attractive for women. For example, the language used in your job advertisements may unintentionally drive away the very applicants you're trying to get into your hiring funnel pipeline. If you want to hire more women, make sure your language is inclusive and you are eliminating gendered wording that could potentially deter women from applying to your company.

Another way to make your hiring process more inclusive is by creating a diverse interview panel. Having underrepresented people at the table when candidates are going through the interview process can help both candidates and companies

3. Provide Opportunities for Growth

Women want to know that they will have the same opportunities for career development as men, so companies should ensure that women are being offered pathways for advancement. Conduct an audit to determine how many women are being promoted into managerial positions, and if the opportunities are not being provided equitably, take steps to change that—which can include offering career development and education to help women increase their skills and knowledge. In addition, your company should review the compensation it offers to assess whether or not women are earning what they deserve. If there is a wage gap in your organization, close it.

4. Offer Flexible Benefits

More and more workers are demanding benefits that help support their lifestyles and values. To make your workplace more inclusive for women, offer benefits that help with their work-life balance concerns, especially if they are working mothers. For example, providing a generous maternity leave, and flexible schedules and remote work to help ease childcare challenges, can go a long way toward making the workplace inclusive for women—which will help you attract and retain the talent you want.

5. Create an Employee Resource Group

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can contribute to making a company more inclusive because they allow workers of a specific demographic to come together to share their experiences, discuss their problems, and brainstorm ways the workplace can be improved. Creating an ERG for women can give employees a safe space to connect and speak openly and honestly about how things are going for them—and what needs to change. Also, you can have a member of the executive team attend ERG meetings, so the decisions-makers of the company are aware of members’ concerns and are better positioned to address them.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are 57.4 percent of the workforce, so making your organization more inclusive for women is a must for hiring and retaining these workers. Just as with making the workplace more inclusive for other groups, creating inclusivity for women requires thought and planning, and these tips can help with that process.

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