For years women have fought against inequality in the workplace. From being able to take on many jobs at all following the end of World War II to fighting for equal pay (which some would argue is a fight that has not been won), women have pushed against prejudice in the workplace. However, despite the work of an inspirational few, there is still a huge imbalance in the number of women holding high positions in UK firms. Statistics show that despite women comprising 47% of the workforce, they only account for 23.5% of non-executive directorships in FTSE 100 businesses in Britain. Breaking through this glass ceiling is not just a job for women, but can also be helped by men in the workplace. In fact, men can help address imbalances at work on all levels, so what can men and women do to help improve workplace equality?
- Listen & Learn
One of the first things that men can do is to actually listen to female co-workers and let them be heard. Many men have a tendency to speak over one another in an effort to dominate the room and be heard, and this tendency can be even worse when women are around. In fact, a lot of men don’t even realise they are doing it – but just take a moment to notice how often you see a man talk over a woman, seemingly without realising! Women typically have a number of skills that are different to those of their male colleagues, such as being shown to be more empathetic listeners, making them persuasive leaders.
- Provide & Promote Opportunity
Men and women in positions of power and influence in the workplace need to do more to actively encourage women into senior positions. This may mean accepting the need to help balance work and family commitments, for example. However, this is easier than ever with advances in technology allowing for more possibilities for remote working. Actively looking to promote female workers and supporting their development will only help to foster a culture of equality in the workplace, while looking for solutions rather than problems will allow the workplace environment to push past out-dated practices.
- Let Others In
While men have been seen to be guilty of blocking the advancement of women at senior levels, there are also many women who seem to want to block others in order to keep the power to themselves. Sharing information, and empowering others shouldn’t be about gender, but about opportunity and ability. By allowing others to rise the entire business becomes stronger as skills and experience improves across the workforce – but only if we make it happen. Provide training and mentoring opportunities for women at senior levels and let them be present at senior meetings. It is only by making a stand that men and women can let others in.
Only by allowing others a chance to be heard, show what they can do and gain experience can they get along, whether male or female. If we want to see more equality in the workplace then we need to do more to make it happen – especially at a senior level.
Rather than over-looking female staff because more male executives should be seeing how they can make it easier for women to take greater responsibility at higher levels. Failing to do so means a failure to recognise what could be some of your company’s greatest assets!
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