This disrupter profile originally appeared in Disrupters by Dr. Patti Fletcher. Buy now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
How do we move things in the right direction in companies when it comes to gender equality?
We have had a lot of great conversations, surveys, and data, but the basic reality is that as a society we have not viewed equity for women as a real business priority. We need passionate leaders who understand the business and social reasons for employing women in the workforce – not just on the board or management, but at all levels of the organization.
In addition to understanding how diverse your workforce is, you need to understand how extensive it is. You have to look at the whole system to understand where you are losing people, where you are not getting people, and where you are not experiencing full engagement from people.
When we look at the data globally, we often see the research and attention for women at the top or on the board, but the biggest problem really is the decline in the middle management stage, when women are about twice as likely to leave as men do.
We have found that male managers, while well-intentioned, are often unable to handle women in conversations about stress, flextime, remote working, company readiness, and other issues that they need to deal with differently would for their male employees. Understanding why your female team members are threatened with abandonment, and knowing how to respond, will enable you to involve your female team members in incredibly valuable ways.
When I work with women’s resource groups, one of my first pieces of advice is, “Know your worth.” You should know what your economic worth is in the marketplace. You don’t have to be aggressive to ask the basic question of how a potential employer measures this value and what contributions you make to their company.
If you are a young woman, your manager needs to know that promotion is important to you. They take care of equal pay. You value accurate performance reviews. You want to be fairly rewarded for your work. If you work for a company that is unwilling to make this a priority, ask yourself, “In the long run, will I be successful in this environment? Would I like to spend the foreseeable future of my professional career here? “
These are difficult questions, but they need to be asked.
If I were a young woman entering the job market today, I would want to work for and look for companies that are serious about diversity and inclusion.
Reflections from Dr. Patti Fletcher
Disrupters shows the strategies women use to succeed in business. As such, it mostly focuses on what you can do personally.
However, Pat makes one important point: the need to involve men in the process. If we really want to achieve gender equality, everyone has to be involved. Pat’s pragmatic optimism also inspires me: when men “get it” and ally with feminist women, they can become the most powerful advocates for women and evangelists for just practices.