Hiring moms is good for business. Yet women remain underrepresented in the workplace, especially when it comes to leadership. In 2022, a study found that women account for only 27 percent of manager-level roles — and for women of color, the numbers are even lower at 14 percent.
According to studies from Werklabs, the research division of The Mom Project, this lack of women at the managerial level only exacerbates the issue. The Mom Success Factor studied the impact that moms have in the workplace, showing that employees with moms as managers and CEOs report more job satisfaction, increased team collaboration and a greater likelihood to stay at their company.
Despite the incredible strides women have made in the workplace, there’s still work to do. Whether you’re a manager or coworker, a woman or an ally, you have an important role in supporting and empowering women in the workplace.
Understanding the gender gap
While women are underrepresented across many industries, this gap is especially apparent in the tech world. The stats are concerning: women in tech account for less than one in five employees, despite comprising more than half of the U.S. workforce. Understanding the reasons for this gap as it relates to the tech industry can give us insight into similar gaps in the corporate world.
According to The Empowering Guide for Women in Tech in 2023, there are complex issues at play that account for this gap, ranging from the educational system to the tech companies themselves. At the heart of it, however, it comes down to one thing — the industry is male-dominated, leading to many women leaving the industry or avoid going into it altogether.
It’s time to change this story. Here are 5 things we can do to help empower women.
1. Create space for women
The number one thing we can do to empower women is to actively create space for them in the workplace. It’s imperative that companies examine their hiring practices to understand any diversity gaps they have and figure out why. Many larger organizations have dedicated DE&I teams and initiatives in place, but you don’t have to be a big company to actively engage in diverse hiring practices.
According to the most recent Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Survey, 87% of businesses around the world agree that DE&I should be an organizational priority. But what makes one program excel over another? It starts with awareness and understanding what’s going on in your own organization. From there, it takes strategic planning along with strong support from leadership. Finally, success happens when you implement your strategy across every level of the business to fully integrate DE&I with the company culture.
2. Encourage training and certifications
As technology evolves and the world adjusts to global changes, the workforce shifts. The best way to be prepared for this continuous evolution is to keep your knowledge up-to-date. Training can also provide opportunities for advancement and promotions.
RISE at The Mom Project understands how critical training and certifications can be for a woman’s career, especially moms and women of color. RISE helps women advance by providing scholarships for top certification programs — providing upskilling opportunities that help women thrive.
3. Close the pay gap
Asking for a raise can be intimidating, especially in uncertain economic times. The assumption has long been that women don’t ask for raises as often as men, but recent research shows that’s not the case. Women are asking for raises as often as men, but they get them 15% of the time, compared to 20% of the time for men.
This, of course, only serves to exacerbate the gender pay gap, with women earning 77 cents for every dollar men do.
Managers can help close the pay gap by ensuring raises and salaries are equitably determined. If adjustments need to be made to level the playing field, raise the issue to HR and propose a plan to standardize the pay structure, regardless of gender.
Pay transparency is also key. Encouraging the open discussion of salaries can help hold companies accountable for rewarding employees on merit alone.
Ready to make the ask? Read more about asking for a raise and getting it.
4. Practice empathy
One of the largest factors that can affect a woman’s experience in the workplace is leadership. From direct managers to the executive team, leadership sets the tone for inclusion in workplaces. According to Werklabs, empathy and understanding from leaders is the number one element in workplace satisfaction:
“Contrary to post-pandemic popular belief, flexibility is NOT the most important factor contributing to working parent satisfaction. Instead, working parents say that team & leader support has the highest impact on working parent satisfaction, which in turn impacts their productivity, retention and recommendation—key business drivers for every organization. Flexibility is important, but it’s only impactful if an employee feels supported in using it by their company policies and direct managers.”
Empathy goes a long way in supporting inclusion. In essence, empathy means recognizing the individual beyond the employee, understanding that they have intricate lives beyond work. Practicing this simple shift in mindset can lead to more women staying in jobs and a healthier company culture overall.
5. Practice flex factors that matter to women
Flexibility is still key to providing balance and making work work for women and parents. 88% of working women consider flexibility to be the most important factor in job satisfaction, greater even than salary. As an ally in the workplace, you can support women by advocating for flex factors like flexible schedules and remote and hybrid work arrangements.
Women in particular have very specific challenges in regard to child care concerns, as the burden of securing or providing it largely falls on them. In addition to flexibility, you can advocate for family-friendly benefits like parental leave policies, health benefits, child care stipends and tuition reimbursement programs. In addition to creating these programs for working moms, you can also coach women through making the most of these flex factors. Remind employees with flexible schedules of the importance of communicating their availability and setting a consistent schedule.
Empowering women comes down to one basic concept: ensuring that they are seen and heard. Understanding the concerns of women is the foundation to creating lasting change. Awareness of biases that exist is also integral to moving forward. The work must begin early. Encouraging young girls to pursue an interest in STEM can impact the trajectory of their lives. It’s up to all of us to advocate for change.