How to support your female colleagues, no matter who you are
Women in the workplace can always use more support from their peers – including bosses and both female and male coworkers.
This support can help women become leaders in their company, reject unfair business practices and find work-life balance.
Here are the best ways to support women in your company depending on your role and identity in the business.
Leadership and executives
It’s common knowledge that significant changes don’t happen in business without buy in from the top. It’s nearly impossible to shift company culture if leadership isn’t on board.
Since a lack of female leadership is often a symptom of company culture, and more female leaders means better business outcomes, it’s important to recognize your responsibility as a leader.
By creating more opportunities for female professional development, examining the attitudes around female hiring and making sure there is equity in payment structures for all employees, you can start building a business that values female leaders for the strengths they bring to the table.
Without great leadership, real change won’t happen.
Bosses can either be a professional woman’s greatest asset or biggest source of stress. As a supervisor, you significantly affect your direct reports’ day-to-day job experiences. That is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly, since 75% of workers say their biggest source of stress at work is their immediate boss.
On the flipside, supporting your employees can lead to job satisfaction – 86% of employees who reported feeling supported by their boss were satisfied with their job and 88% are motivated to do their best.
This holds true for female employees, who can feel overlooked by male managers that are more likely to mentor male employees.
Your responsibility as a boss is to make sure women feel they have an equal opportunity for leadership – the positive results will also make you look good to company leadership.
Just because you aren’t in a position of authority doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive impact on the women around you. Supporting your fellow women in the workplace is important for your growth and their growth.
The stereotype of catty women that undercut and backbite to keep others from succeeding is prevalent in pop culture, and unfortunately can be borne out in reality. Many times, this behavior is seen as an attempt to cut down on competition for top jobs that women often miss out on to men. This dynamic is made even more complicated by research showing that likability and success are negatively correlated for women in business.
However, women are better served by working together and lifting each other up. Having a support network of female colleagues will amplify your voice along with their voices, giving everyone a better chance for success.
Even if you don’t think you have a lot to share, you can be a mentor by supporting other women in the workplace. As more women become leaders in your organization, more women are hired and have a chance to succeed.
Men supporting their female colleagues is not just good for women, it’s good for men too. A lot of the things that support the growth and development of female leaders can also help men find work-life balance.
One of the benefits that many women report wanting in their jobs is flexibility, whether that’s in work hours, location or job description. However, actually using or advocating for flexible policies can be seen as stigmatizing for women. If more men take advantage of flex working opportunities, every employee will benefit.
Sometimes, men can feel threatened by diversity initiatives that aim to increase female employees. However, “gender diversity” doesn’t mean “hiring all women” – it means having a good mix of women and men in the workplace. Gender diversity in leadership is a good predictor of business success, so men who help women become leaders should see a return in more opportunities for themselves.
Men can benefit from gender equality in many ways, especially in the workplace.
Supporting women is important for everyone in an organization, regardless of gender or hierarchy in the company. Click here to read more about the benefits of hiring women, and how you can help them become leaders.