A couple of weeks ago, a friend confided in why her employer refused a role transition and salary increase. One being, no women in this workplace receives more than $25/hr. Secondly, the employer wouldn’t consider her in a “field role” due to the potential sexual harassment issues (even though she had previous years of field and logging experience). Essentially, it’s a male dominated sector/employer. One who is afraid to reprimand inappropriate, male workers, in exchange for giving women opportunities. Let boys be boys, while keeping women in the office (or kitchen). Pathetic.
We’ve all heard the same stats over and OVER again. Women make up only 3% of Canadian truck drivers and 5% of Fortune 500 CEO’s. Yet, we’re still not seeing the number of women in the workplace rise. Especially, within particular industries or leadership roles. Diversity and inclusion campaigns are not enough.
Retention and a lack of women in the workplace has become an important topic. What can be done to change this challenging dynamic?
Before providing recruitment and retention strategies, I want to start by saying that I am not a feminist by any means. I am however, a millennial woman. One who never believed my gender would be a setback. The type of woman who never asks for opportunities. I take them. I kick ass and move forward without apologies. I continuously educate myself and enjoy working ridiculously long hours. I give and receive. And if I am not gaining what I need, or moving upward, I move onward.
While my go-getter attitude and perseverance has gotten me to where I am today, I am no stranger to discrimination, workplace bullying or harassment. Unfortunately, some instances have had a real impact on me. In the end, I don’t allow people or places to dim my shine. Or, let it stay dim for too long.
So how can we recruit and retain for success, while on-boarding more women?
First, let’s cut the garbage out.
· Increase recognition and appreciation for employees. Stop thanking workers only on special, designated days. Much like National woman’s day. Talk to, and thank workers daily. A simple, and often “thank you”, or “great job”, will go far.
· Assess your wages or salaries. Compare them against all roles. If certain demographics are earning less than others, something is wrong.
· Statistically compare roles to demographics. Are men more predominant in certain roles than women? Are there women with similar skills that could easily transition into one of these roles?
· Hire within. Invest in current staff, instead of hiring externally. Train and provide mentorship programs. Try a role reversal day once a year.
· Look at your bathrooms. Are they gender inclusive? Are there products for women? Is it safe and clean?
· Is there a designated confidant or representative to talk to? Someone to listen to workers concerns without the worry of repercussions. Do you have a open-door policy or is it survival of the fittest?
· Actually, follow or walk the talk in workplace policies and regulations. Do yearly training, have safety meetings and deal with workplace concerns. Nobody likes having critical conversations or penalizing people. However, you should. Stop glazing over issues and wondering how Glenn went “postal” in 2015. Deal with things appropriately. And of course, fairly.
· Do you have quarterly or yearly personal development plans for employees? Ones that promote goals, training or growth? Not just disciplinary tacking.
· Provide staff with personal days and flexible working arrangements (job pertaining). People need the option to take time-off without explanation.
· What about benefits? If not, are employees properly compensated to be able to obtain their own?
· Is there ample technology or equipment in place? Don’t expect workers to adapt to outdated, monotonous ways. Provide proper tools and have systems in place which will reduce employees time and free them up to complete important tasks. Not to mention, allow for innovation and save employers costs in the long run.
· Have your employees included in the vision, mission and value statement. Make everyone and everything, matter.
· Try employee engagement surveys and allow for anonymity. Workers will tell you everything you need to know in order to create a better workforce.
· Ask employees what their challenges and struggles are. What tasks do they enjoy doing? What could be better? Give them the ability to do more of what they like. Or at least ask. Workers want to feel heard.
· Promote a safe and healthy working environment. Have a resource area with tools and references (ex. Mental health, counselling, food bank, fitness programs).
· Have new blood or women on the Board of Directors. Try having a variety of small to large sized employers with diverse backgrounds, educational credentials and demographics.