Executive commitment to, and sponsorship of, women’s advancement — advocating for the business case: Simply put, leaders need to demonstrate their commitment by mentoring/sponsoring women in order to ENGAGE & RETAIN them. Make sure your leadership puts them into the mix for promotions and make sure they’re part of their own succession plans.
HERE ARE 5 THINGS TO HELP ENGAGE & RETAIN WOMEN:
1. Flexible Work Arrangements
The traditional 9 to 5 workday is all but obsolete. Today’s world requires the flexibility of working virtually, job sharing, flex hours, etc.—without fear of penalty to women. Communicate achievable, and realistic goals & expectations, and allow your employee to get the job done in a way that works best for their individual circumstance to deliver the results you want.
2.Wage/Salary Equity Audits
Take a look at your current salary structure to ensure women are paid the same as men in your organization. Implement regular salary audits to close the gender pay gap and to provide a more balanced scale. Celebrate that you are committed to pay equity and the end result will be your talent pipeline filled with high potential women.
3. Maternity Leave/Parental Leave/Family Friendly Practices/Work-Life Initiatives
Much like flexible work arrangements, having children, aging parents, and other lifestyle obligations requires flexibility throughout one’s career. Too many women are kept out of conversations for advancement due to the misperception that their career isn’t a priority. Life happens, and every organization needs to have the flexibility to deal with it in order to encourage women managers to remain engaged. Try not to focus on hours in the office, which can sometimes be perceived negatively. Instead, focus on the actual accomplishments vs. time spent at a desk. The results will speak for themselves.
4. Competency-based performance management systems
You may not realize it, but your performance management system may have hidden gender bias that disadvantages women. Too often during annual reviews, women suffer from the methodology around how managers perceive them based on behaviors (i.e. a woman who is assertive may be perceived as difficult vs. a man who may be seen as a leader)— instead of reviewing them on their actual performance. When you use a Competency-based model that focuses on measurable competencies vs. behaviors & personality, you will eliminate potential bias.
5. Minimize culture of self-promotion, enhance a culture of merit/performance
Evaluate your company culture to determine whether you have a system in place that inherently rewards those who speak up. More likely than not, you’ll see that men have been encouraged to self-promote but women have not—they’ll keep working hard and let their performance speak for itself. Leaders have to stop looking at only those who are self-promoting to identify high potential talent in their organization. Don’t assume that just because someone didn’t ask for a raise, promotion, or more responsibilities, they don’t want it. If you enhance the idea of who has the skill-set and ability to be promoted, and not only the people who have their hands up, you’ll retain more women who will contribute greatly to your organization.
If you’re in need of an expert partner to help you engage & retain women leaders, we can help you level the playing field.