September 20, 2023

How to prepare your women employees for advancement

In order to achieve true equity, we need to see more women from diverse backgrounds in leadership positions.

In 2022, women in entry-level roles made up 48% of the total workforce, management positions equaled 40%, senior manager director positions equaled 36%, VP positions equaled 32%, SVP positions equaled 28%, and C-suite positions equaled 26%. In comparison, 74% of C-Suite positions were occupied by men, according to Lean In’s 2022 Women in the Workplace Report.

Data shows that corporate leadership will not reach gender parity until 2060. This brings up an important question: What strategies do companies have in place to promote and advance their women employees?

If your company is looking to build a more diverse and equitable workplace, here are four priorities to focus on when preparing women employees for advancement.

Have transparent conversations to better understand their skills, goals, and workplace preferences.

Some skills that are considered more feminine may not be valued as highly in the workplace even though they require more education, says Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst, in a article. For example, 40% of women leaders say their DEI work isn’t acknowledged at all in performance reviews.

Here’s how company leaders and managers can better understand women employees’ skills, goals, and workplace preferences in order to properly invest in their professional development:

  • Confront your biases through training and education to identify what skills you consider most valuable and why.
  • Use 1:1 meetings to ask employees about their career goals. What skills do they want to develop? How would they like to grow within the company? How can you support this growth?
  • Provide employees with a learning and development stipend to further their education and identify any gaps they need to fill in order to advance within the company.
  • Conduct a pay equity audit to identify any disparities that exist within their organizations.  
  • Take time to understand their workplace preferences. If your women employees are primarily responsible for childcare and household work, offer flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities, or consider increasing their PTO.

Connect women employees with senior professionals.

Women need allies and sponsors in the workplace. Sponsors can connect employees with other leaders in the company, advocate for promotions and raises, nominate them to lead projects, and increase employee visibility, especially in a remote environment.

Less than half of the employees at the manager level or higher serve as sponsors, and only one in three employees say they have a sponsor.

Black women and women with disabilities also face more barriers to advancement, get less support from managers, and receive less sponsorship than other groups of women.

Your organization can create a sponsorship program that links employees to senior leaders and managers. You can also connect your employees with a Certified Career Coach who can help them create a development plan while improving their confidence and leadership skills.

Support women’s ERG and belonging communities.

Employee Resource Groups help increase employee engagement, boost retention rates, support the company’s DEI goals, and so much more. In order for ERG leaders to do their jobs effectively, they must be supported by their surrounding community.

Company leaders and managers can support women’s ERGs by:

  • Providing an ERG budget and compensating ERG leaders.
  • Ensuring the ERG has an active and committed Executive Sponsor to build a bridge between ERG leaders and company leaders.
  • Incorporating ERG responsibilities into performance reviews and giving leaders time to work on ERG tasks during work hours.
  • Providing ERG leaders with professional training.
  • Promoting ERG programs and attending events open to the company.

Educate yourself and your team on allyship and intersectional identities.

Not all women’s experiences are the same in the workplace. Their race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, and other identities impact their work experience.

In order for women to grow within your company, they have to stay at your company. Retention and advancement go hand in hand, which is why leaders must work to build a culture of belonging. Every employee has a different understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, so conducting a baseline assessment and educating team members on the foundation of DEI is a great start.

Perfeqta has worked with companies who have implemented mandatory training for all employees on understanding DEI, being an authentic ally, anti-bias and inclusion, and inclusive hiring and interviewing. We provide participants with the resources they need to share their challenges, listen to feedback, and talk through actionable solutions.

Work with Perfeqta and invest in your women employees’ professional success.

We eliminate the stress that comes with recruiting top talent, developing strategic DEI initiatives, and establishing inclusive employee development policies and practices that create an equitable work environment.

Learn more about our company training sessions, career coaching, and DEI strategic planning here.

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