Even in 2018, it’s not easy to be a woman in the business world. Unless you’re a woman yourself, it’s impossible to understand how some of the everyday harassment and double standards affect a woman’s morale and self-esteem at the office. With that said, everyone needs to be mindful of the effect colleagues’ words and actions can have.
Boosting women in the workplace isn’t just important for looking good to customers. It’s about using the strengths of half the population to their full advantage. A 2008 Pew study found that 69% of Americans believe that men and women have equal talent for leadership. That attitude is in stark contrast to the gender imbalance of executive positions—just 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
Inequality in the workplace is still a major problem. We all know it’s a problem, and yet by mid-career, men are 70% more likely to hold executive positions and women represent just 20% of board seats. It can take time for men to develop their leadership skills and learn to work well with women. Women face an uphill battle in achieving their career ambitions, as they are often denied opportunities or even blocked from getting promoted. Here are 5 ways you can better understand and help women to push past the obstacles in their way.
1. Respect Women for Who They Are and Learn to Work Together
No man can know what it’s like to be a woman. They think, act, and live differently, and the first step to achieving equality is to acknowledge and accept those differences. Learning to work together can take some work.
Research has turned up some interesting findings about gender diversity in the workplace. Companies with higher levels of diversity saw decreases in job satisfaction and colleague collaboration, but those companies did generate more revenues than male or female-dominated companies. That’s not to say that work can never be fun in a gender-diverse company, but the fact is that in the office, doing good work is what matters. Men and women need to work together to create a strong company culture.
2. Good Communication is Key
There’s no denying that power plays a role in business, and people at the top can develop big egos. Because women are underrepresented in leadership, understanding the way men and women communicate becomes all the more crucial. Communication breakdowns and exploitative communication can create morale issues for women when dealing with men in leadership position. Comments a man doesn’t think twice about often have a negative impact on the women they work with.
Men need to implement positive communication and understand that how they communicate has an impact, whether that’s positive or negative. It’s important for men to improve their self-awareness and hold themselves accountable for how they treat women in the workplace.
3. Be Mindful of Online Language and Communication
Today, chat programs and online communications are a big part of the business world. It’s easier than ever to communicate with colleagues—and to harass them. Harassment is defined by being negative and repeated. Not every person who harasses someone online means to, but that doesn’t excuse the behavior. It’s important to be mindful of the messages, language, and communications you’re sending to your colleagues to ensure that you’re not contributing to a culture of harassment.
4. Listen and Recognize When Women Need Help
It’s unfortunate, but women are often not empowered to speak up about issues they’re having in the workplace. They may be shamed, belittled, or shut down. Standing up for themselves often means being dismissed, which is extremely disheartening. Women are typically more empathetic than men and are naturally more sensitive. When you notice that your female colleague is low energy or seems bothered by something, ask if you can help. Then, really listen. Sometimes, just listening is enough, but sometimes you may need to help women ensure their voices are heard.
5. Celebrate Their Accomplishments and Successes
Women often get little to no recognition for the work they do—or someone else takes credit for it. When you notice your female colleagues going above and beyond or you see them accomplish something, celebrate with them. Show that you support them and want them to succeed. It’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference