Each year on International Women's Day — March 8 — employers across industries make headlines by promoting their commitment to gender equality. Firms like Accenture and PwC publish timely reports and host events highlighting strategies for women's advancement in the workplace, while some companies develop campaigns and products honoring trailblazing women.
At Fairygodboss, we love to see countless employers show up to draw attention to International Women’s Day. That said, we also know that only 61 percent of women who review their company on Fairygodboss say that they are treated fairly, 63 percent would recommend their company to another women, and 21 percent suggest they were not promoted equally to men. Fortunately, those numbers are up from last year, when just 53 percent of women said that they were treated fairly, and 57 percent said they would recommend their company to another women.
Still, we have a long way to go until we reach true gender parity. So this year on March 8, we are taking a look at how to translate the momentum around International Women's Day into real improvement for women in the workplace every day.
Here are five strategies companies can exercise year-round to advance women in the workplace:
1. Set diversity targets.
Companies that want to get serious about helping women will publicly announce diversity targets, just like Accenture has. By declaring that its workforce will reach true gender balance by 2025, Accenture is not only holding itself accountable, but it’s also inspiring other companies to follow suit.
2. Do a compensation audit.
Despite increased awareness of the gender pay gap, wage discrepancies persist within most companies. Employers who aren’t sure of how to fix this should take a hint from Salesforce, which conducted a compensation audit in 2015 to determine how to close the gap within its workforce. CEO Marc Benioff publicly announced the initiative, putting his company’s reputation on the line; moreover, when he discovered that there was indeed a pay gap, he put a plan in place (with $3 million in funding) to fix it — and then spent another $3 million to help close the gender pay gap this past spring.
3. Offer paid parental leave that’s inclusive of all parents.
The U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave, so it’s critical that employers take responsibility and offer benefits that will help support employees — and, in turn, retain them. The best policies are at least 12 weeks, are 100 percent paid, and are inclusive of all employees and all parents — not just mothers.
4. Invest in and support your women’s ERG.
If leveraged effectively, employee resource groups (ERGs) for women can be crucial tools to help get more women into management positions by encouraging and perhaps formalizing mentorship and sponsorship, by engaging executives and male allies, and to help enhance initiatives or parental leave benefits.
5. Acknowledge that men and women have different workplace experiences.
Fairygodboss research shows that men and women look for jobs differently and have distinct reasons for searching. While 36 percent of men leave their job for a higher salary, 47 percent of women leave their jobs due to changes in their personal life or because some aspect their current position just isn’t working; work-life balance tends to be paramount to their job satisfaction. Employers that are aware of women’s specific needs and concerns will be most effective in attracting and retaining top talent.
Finally, companies need to continue to make these conversations and initiatives central to their mission. By helping to increase awareness through discourse — and then implementing concrete plans to bring their goals to fruition — employers can do their part to support women at work every day of the year.