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How to support women in the workplace

Posted April 27, 2022

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The pandemic has greatly reshaped the workplace over the last two years, but in many ways, working women have been more disproportionately affected by the pandemic. From February 2020 to January 2022, male workers regained all jobs they had lost due to the public health crisis, according to one analysis. However, 1.1 million women left the labor force during that span, accounting for 63 percent of all jobs lost. And 42% of women (and 35% of men) have felt burned out in the last few months, up from 32% and 28% respectively, last year. 

Check out this episode of our Benefits Buzz podcast as we discuss how to support women in the workplace. Or keep reading to learn more.

Ask them what they need

One of the first steps HR leaders can take to support women in the workplace is to simply ask what they need. Try conducting an anonymous survey to see what employees are struggling with, what changes they would like to see, and collect feedback on any ideas you already have on ways to support them.   

Also, look out for patterns in the answers you receive. Are working moms struggling to balance their professional job and their job as a mom? Are remote workers missing out on opportunities because they’re not in the office? Patterns like these can indicate problems in the workplace you might have been unaware of and help you prioritize what changes need to be made first. 

Level the playing field

With many women working remotely, especially those with young kids, employers need to consider how this could impact the office dynamic.  To support these women, bridge any gaps that exist between remote and in-office workers. For example, an in-person employee who’s communicating face-to-face with other employees might be introduced to more conversations about work opportunities than a remote employee who relies on technology for communication and might accidently be excluded from these opportunities.

“HR professionals and leaders in the company should consider what they can do regularly to have everyone on the same playing field where everyone is communicating in the same way as they work together,” said Elayne Fluker on our Benefits Buzz podcast. Fluker is author of “Get Over ‘I Got It’”, and host of “Support is Sexy” podcast. 

Whether that’s additional check-ups with remote workers, team building activities, or trying a new communication tool, it’s important that all employees feel included and are given equal opportunity in the workplace. 

Create a supportive space

Studies have shown that, for a variety of reasons, women are less likely than men to pursue career opportunities and take risks at work. That’s why it’s important for employers to: 

  • Create a supportive and encouraging work environment for all employees. 
  • A space where employees know that asking for support does not constitute failure.
  • A space where opportunities for personal growth and learning are always available.

Creating a mentorship or sponsorship program at your company is a great way to encourage growth and development in the workplace. Mentors give employees someone to turn to for extra support and guidance in their careers, while sponsors can advocate for employees who are working remotely and might be feeling disconnected from certain work opportunities.

“We want to make sure that women – not because they’re women, but because they’re great at what they do – have opportunities to grow, learn, and contribute to their organization in the ways you know they can,” Fluker said.

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The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.

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