Gender diversity in the workplace – small steps will go a long way
Several companies appoint Chief Diversity Officers and invest heavily in diversity efforts, yet are disappointed with the meager results. A large group of people have made the case for why diversity matters by pointing out how it drives revenue, fosters innovation, and motivates employees. However, most agree that the full opportunity of diversity has not been realized.
Here are five things you can learn from top companies that are successfully globalizing workplace diversity and inclusion:
Help new mothers deal with anxiety
New mothers experience three common types of anxiety – breastfeeding, separation from child, and leaving a sick child behind. Companies should put simple practices in place to help a new mother reduce such anxieties. In an interview to YourStory in 2015, entrepreneur Ashwini Asokan had shared, “Startup spaces too are predominantly male. For example, startups prefer foosball tables, console games, and shiny cafes to nursing rooms and child-care centres.”
It is crucial that organizations recognise the challenges feeding mothers face and provide adequate breastfeeding/pumping provisions. Allowing new mothers to bring their infants to work where they can sleep in a crib while the mother does her work will help ease the anxiety they face. These provisions won’t put a hole in the organization’s pocket, yet will go a long way in retaining talent, especially women.
Companies need to ensure that women and minority candidates have access to leadership training. If they do, they’ll have a better chance at securing promotions. Ensure that your company’s leadership training reaches till the lower ranks where diversity actually exists. By allowing women and minority groups to receive leadership training, you are helping them grow and advance in their careers.
Monitor your metrics
Companies need to measure things such as the average income of men and women at each level, the percentage of gender diversity at each level, and the percentage of promotions that men and women receive. Using these metrics, companies can assess the successes and failures of their own policies when it comes to hiring and retention. In addition to monitoring the statistics, companies should ensure that their managers are doing everything in their power to make sure diversity is implemented.
Make leaders confront their biases
We all have our internal biases that we may not even be aware of. Thousands of years of evolution have programmed us to favour people who are similar to us. This is because our subconscious views supporting individuals who are just like us as a safe option. But if we allow this subconscious to get in the way of business, the companies we work for will end up having one type of leader and a group of identikit employees.
Sponsor mentoring programmes
We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of mentoring programmes. The top managers of any organization should support and mentor women as well as minorities. Since there aren’t many women leaders in most companies, the HR department should develop mentoring programmes where men in senior positions mentor both men as well as women employees.
The only way to make the diversity plan actionable is to ensure that the leadership and the organization is conscious of the bias and how they need to overcome it.