This past Thursday, countless companies made headlines for marking International Women’s Day by publishing research, spreading feel-good messages, and promoting new women-focused ads or products.
Accenture released its annual “Getting to Equal” research report and PwC published its “Time to Talk: What Has to Change for Women at Work” report, both packed with actionable advice for how to advance women’s careers; Mattel unveiled 17 new Barbies, paying homage to Amelia Earhart and Misty Copeland, among other trailblazing women; Nike aired a new ad featuring Serena Williams, who declared that “there’s no wrong way to be a woman”; and McDonald’s turned its iconic ‘M’ logos upside-down, marking ‘W’ for women.
It was heartening to see these employers, among numerous others, show up to draw attention to International Women’s Day. That said, just 53% of women who review their company on Fairygodboss say that they are treated fairly, and 57% would recommend their company to another women. Sixty percent of our users say that their CEO supports gender diversity. Our mission is to get all those numbers to be higher, so we’d love to find a way to translate all this momentum for International Women’s Day into real improvement for women in the workplace every day.
Here are five ways that companies can do just that:
1. 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.
2. 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% paid, and are inclusive of all employees and all parents — not just mothers.
3. 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.
4. 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% of men leave their job for a higher salary, 47% 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.
5. 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.
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.