Want to Know How to Retain the Smart Women in Your Organization?

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The challenges faced by women in the workplace are plenty—specifically in industries traditionally dominated by men. While women today may have more career opportunities and educational achievements than prior generations, many still work in environments ripe with unequal pay, discrimination, harassment and more.

Despite women making up nearly 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, they’re still fighting an uphill battle to gain equal standing with their male counterparts. And according to the Women in business 2018 report, the percentage of women who hold senior roles is on the decline, with women only holding 24 percent of executive roles globally.

While it’s clear the glass ceiling is still in place, progress is being made to crack the barrier.

Women in the workplace today are more ambitious and confident when it comes to fulfilling their career aspirations, with 77 percent stating they make good leaders and 60 percent reporting they feel supported and understood by their managers.

But the work doesn’t stop there — HR and talent-acquisition executives have a unique opportunity to help keep the progress going. Here are three ways to support women who are making strides to break into and diversify male-dominated industries.

Sustaining the Change

Now more than ever, companies are starting to understand the value of diversity. It’s not only the right thing to do, but companies are seeing the benefits to their bottom lines as well. Research from McKinsey & Co. reveals the strong correlation between gender diversity on executive teams and increased profitability and value creation. In fact, companies that land within the top 25th percentile for executive-level gender diversity worldwide are 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profits. While the motivation for diversity is clear, that doesn’t mean businesses always understand how to ensure women are thriving within their organizations.

HR plays a huge role in helping to facilitate this change. Through initiatives like employee resource groups or mentorship programs, women have the opportunity to seek out the support and guidance of other women within workplaces where they may be outnumbered by men. In male-dominated industries such as IT, engineering and manufacturing, it’s more important than ever for women to be able to experience more accepting, safe work environments.

Encourage and Empower

As more women continue to forge a path into male-dominated industries, it’s important to be able to anticipate their needs in order to help address potential issues before they arise. For many women, navigating workplaces comes with the potential for unconscious bias and/or unfair treatment. However, there are some helpful pieces of advice for women who are pushing for representation and change within organizations where they may be outnumbered by men.

  • Proceed with confidence—Not only is it important for women to be confident in who they are, but they should never feel like they have to apologize for the unique perspectives and characteristics they bring to an organization.
  • Know your worth—From Glassdoor to Salary.com, there are many tools and resources available to determine compensation levels based on location, years of experience and industry averages. Encourage women to understand their compensation level and leverage it to their advantage in the workplace.
  • Seek out support—Building up a strong network is a great way for women to ensure someone always has their back, especially if they work in an industry where the female representation is low. Participating in industry events, joining women-focused resource groups and finding women mentors are helpful steps to creating a viable network.

While it’s clear that many male-dominated industries have a long way to go in breaking down barriers for female employees, change is still taking place. Women are no longer settling for less than what they’re worth, and it’s more critical than ever for HR to stand behind them in full support of leveling the gender playing field. As more women take on roles and leadership within these industries, there’s plenty of opportunity to ensure the difficulties and challenges don’t follow them there. From communicating the value of diversity to supporting a more inclusive workplace, HR departments can empower women to continue breaking down the barriers to equality.

Candace Murphy is IT recruiting manager at Addison Group

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