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What Women Want in the Workplace 2.0 - Part 2

As noted in Part 1, women just want the same treatment as what their white male counterparts enjoy: respect, opportunity, recognition, fair compensation, an equal voice, as well as physical and emotional well-being. It’s really simple and requires only a change in one’s mindset as opposed to a heavy financial investment for companies. It does, however, require a willingness to be self-reflective which ultimately leads to expanded awareness. And who would be opposed to becoming more insightful?

This originally started out as a two-part series. But, the topic is so rich that I’ve added a Part 3. This also gives you time to mull over all the points covered before presenting additional actions. I hope all of these blogs trigger new thinking for both women and men. As my mother always said: “it takes two to tango”. If we’re going achieve a sustainable change, it’s going take a combined effort. On to this installment. Previously I covered three actions: Disrupting the Status Quo, Respect, and Opportunity. The following two common sense actions lead to a more inclusive workplace -- one that attracts and retains high performing women. #4: Recognition This is a fundamental of Management 101. It is an important aspect of employee engagement regardless of gender, age, generation, sexual preference, ethnicity, and so forth. There are three points worth emphasizing regarding recognition. Point #1: Acknowledging job performance ­ Frequently, people fall into the trap of thinking that regular recognition is unnecessary since that person is merely doing what their job requires. That may be true. Nonetheless, everyone likes being recognized for a “job well-done”. Positive feedback reinforces performance expectations and clearly communicates appreciation for the person’s effort and commitment to the team. Women also appreciate getting feedback which is often in short supply. Research continues to demonstrate that women tend to get vague feedback when it is given. This creates another barrier for women advancing in their professions. ­Point #2: Self-promotion Self-promotion often leads to higher visibility, public recognition and/or promotions. Men tend (operative word) to be more comfortable with broadcasting their achievements. As a result, they tend to be viewed as more competent than their female counter-parts. Incompetency is gender-neutral. Women, tend to be less comfortable with “strutting their stuff”. Many women believe that the quality of their work speaks for itself. It’s unnecessary to “tell” the world. In fact, if we do, it can have negative ramifications. Point #3: Meeting dynamics Women frequently say that during meetings, their suggestions/ideas are passed over or ignored completely. However, when the same idea is broached later by a male counterpart, other men respond favorable. When women do lay claim to their idea, it, too, can have unpleasant ramifications. So, what can be done to mitigate these situations? Simple. Be mindful of these gender-related differences and your own implicit biases. Make an effort to regularly recognize your female team members’ achievements individually and publically. During meetings, be sure to amplify and build on suggestions made by the women making sure to give credit where credit is due. #5: Fair Compensation Pay equity is a hot topic these days. In my opinion it can be a slippery slope and riddled with implicit bias. While there are many factors that come into play, women continue to earn less than men across the board. Evaluating a person’s “value” is highly subjective. Implicit gender bias influences performance evaluations as well. More specifically, women tend to be measured on their communication skills while men are typically evaluated on their competencies. Use objective, measurable performance criteria for all positions to achieve pay equity. Be as transparent as possible with the salary ranges and their criteria. Evaluate women on the quality of their work instead of the amount of time in the office. It’s a given that men generally negotiate their compensation package. Again, women walk a fine line. Negotiating their compensation package can be perceived as being “too aggressive” when done by women. As leaders/managers, be equally as willing to negotiate compensation packages with women as you are with men without the negative labels during either the hiring process or when giving a promotion. Encourage your female counterparts to do several things to mitigate pay inequity: -research the appropriate salary range to ensure they are at least within the range; -ask for what they want; and/or -coach them and share your negotiating tips.

As I said at the beginning of these blogs, women want to enjoy the same treatment as men when it comes to the workplace. When you think about it, all the actions outlined in these two blogs are based on common courtesy -- nothing more. So, I challenge you with the following:

  • Gentlemen, regardless of your job title, begin to notice ways in you're contributing to the inclusion of women on your team or in your work group.

  • Women, notice ways in which you can gently and respectfully increase men's awareness regarding their unconscious biases that prevent you from being an equal part of the team.

Let me know what you notice about yourself and each other. And, stay tuned for the final installment of What Women Want in the Workplace 2.0.

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