International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8, and there’s a lot that female professionals ought to be proud of. For one, there are more women starting their own businesses—and succeeding. From 2007 to 2018, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 58%. They’re also highly profitable: A recent Boston Consulting Group Report reported that if men and women were treated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP would rise by 3% and boost the global economy by $2.5 trillion. In fact, women consistently score higher than their male counterparts in most leadership skills. And when it comes to getting a seat at the table, women are seeing a higher level of representation than ever before. According to research from Grant Thorton, 29% of senior management roles were held by women last year—the highest number ever on record.
But despite this progress, they continue to lag behind when compared to their male counterparts. Women make up 44% of the overall S&P 500 labor force and 36% of first- or mid-level officials and managers at those organizations. Yet they make up only 25% of executive- and senior-level management. What’s more, women hold only 20% of board seats and account for just 6% of CEOs.
This imbalance isn’t new. For years, women have lacked representation at the highest levels. That’s especially true for women of color, who make up only 3.5% of board rooms for the S&P 1500. So why do these inequalities persist? More often than not, the challenges that women face can be linked to the "broken rung," a term that refers to companies’ failure to empower women in entry-level roles to grow into management positions. Fixing it is a necessary step toward achieving equality. According to a report from Lean In and McKinsey & Company, if women are promoted to first-time managers at the same rate as men, there will be one million more women in corporate management positions over the next five years.
Luckily, organizations are already equipped with the tools they need to turn this goal into a reality.
Communicate D&I Goals and Get Internal Stakeholders On Board
When you’re hiring for any position—and especially entry- and mid-level ones—it’s important to set clear goals for diversity and inclusion. Employees who hold more junior positions will eventually be qualified to move into managerial roles—and they’ll be looking for opportunities to do just that. LinkedIn reports that 94% of individuals would stay at a company longer if the organization invested in their careers. As a result, ensuring your candidate pool contains more women from the get-go is crucial if you want to see more of them land in leadership spots.
Once you develop a diverse hiring strategy, communicate it internally to members of the HR team and to C-suite decision-makers. Make the case for recruiting more women at all levels so you can receive buy-in from all internal stakeholders and gain access to resources that will enable you to recruit most effectively.
After you hire and onboard employees, pay close attention to how they’re adjusting to their roles. Meet with associates early on and talk to them about their career goals, ensuring they have access to the same opportunities as their colleagues from the moment they begin working.
Many career growth opportunities stem from internal networking activities. And while some employees will make connections at work naturally, others may be a bit more reluctant to build bonds with colleagues. It’s also a gendered issue: Men often benefit more from networking activities at work, and sometimes these activities are centered around a "bro" culture that doesn’t always welcome women.
Luckily, there are other ways to foster mentorship. For example, an employee-mentor program can empower female associates and early managers to build relationships with their senior colleagues. These programs not only provide women an opportunity to make meaningful professional connections within your organization, they also give them the opportunity to ask questions and gain new skills.
Establish Clear and Consistent Evaluation Criteria
At many companies, the promotion process can seem rather opaque. This lack of transparency is often frustrating for employees—especially those working hard to get to the next level. To ensure all workers have an equal opportunity to move up, focus on establishing evaluation criteria for managers to follow when making promotion decisions. This approach not only helps managers, it also offers employees greater visibility into the process and gives workers the tools they need to reach their potential—regardless of gender.
Require Managers to Participate in Unconscious Bias Trainings
Offering managers guidance around how to evaluate employees certainly contributes to a more just promotion structure, but fixing the systematic problem of the "broken rung" will require your HR department to challenge managers on how they hire, fire and promote employees. That starts with evaluating their own inherent biases—and taking steps to ensure those preferences don’t impact their employees’ growth and development.
Managing unconscious bias is easier said than done. That’s because all humans have preconceived notions—even if they don’t necessarily act upon those judgments.
The scientific explanation for unconscious bias is simple: The brain can consciously process 40 pieces of content per second, while it can unconsciously process 11 million pieces of content. We do a lot of thinking that we’re not aware of, meaning we often come to certain conclusions without realizing it.
One of the most common examples of unconscious bias is gender bias. When women are strong and assertive, they are often perceived as "aggressive" while men with the same qualities are seen as confident. As a result, a female employee who demonstrates these attributes might be passed up for a promotion because of their gender, due to a manager’s unconscious bias.
Knowing how to spot these fixed assumptions is critical to building and maintaining a more diverse workforce and fixing the "broken rung." Start by incorporating unconscious bias training into your L&D efforts and educating managers on how to minimize their own judgments.
Helping women move up the corporate ladder will likely require planning, communication and, in some cases, changes in policy and structure. If you’re an HR manager working to bridge the gender gap at your organization, you certainly have your work cut out for you. But with the right strategy and resources, you can empower more women to reach their full professional potential.
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Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon
Learning and development strategies must continue to evolve in the ever-changing world of work. Training and development provide employees with a softer landing into change, and the introduction of digital learning and development platforms allowed employees a smoother transition into a new style of work. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation.
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4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company
If you want to generate success in your company and work in a harmonious environment, then you need to consider each and every one of your employees, get to know their interests, and offer them the best treatment and commitment. However, one of the most important principles that should be commonplace in every organisation is the equal treatment of employees (regardless of gender, race or religion). Gender, for example, should not be a factor that influences how we treat our workforce. Having a gender equality policy shows employees that they are valued and that the company is serious about ending discrimination. Having a fair remuneration policy that is not distinguished by the employee’s gender, but by their job position and their development within the company is an important step towards gender quality too. Opt for a gender-diverse workforce Having more gender diversity in a company is very positive and not just for the company’s own benefit. In fact, the UK could boost its GDP by 9% if the female employment rates matched with Sweden’s for instance. The challenge for HR departments is to successfully and strategically find and enrol more women in their business. It could solve a real problem, breaking barriers of gender discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality within the company. Equality between your workers is essential It is important to not only review the salaries of your employees, but also other professional aspects such as career plans and promotions, ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. Equality will undoubtedly be a motivational element for employees, regardless of their gender, as having clear objectives is a contributing factor in maintaining employees’ interest levels Strike a balance between work life and family life Fostering harmony between work and family life is key to attracting and retaining talent. It can contribute to the company culture, and to a positive attitude and collaboration amongst employees. Another important point is not to make sweeping generalisations about different genders, and instead to consider the specifics on a case by case basis. Employees need to see that their family life is considered and respected. They will appreciate this and it will likely improve company loyalty in the long run. HR must ensure gender equality in their company HR’s role is essential in managing and promoting gender diversity within the business. They must ensure that the motivation and commitment of their employees is strengthened, which, in turn, strengthens the workforce overall and benefits the entire company.