Aug 6, 2023

HR Blueprint for 2024 International Women's Day Festivities

HR leaders must find and retain top talent for their organisations. They foster a continuous learning and career growth culture and advocate for each employee. International Women’s Day is a great time to celebrate the women in your life and organisation. But it is also a more prominent reminder to assess how your organisation contributes to equality and future opportunities for upcoming generations.

How can you celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th and beyond? Here are a few ideas:

Recognise top performers and promote them to leadership roles 

One way to create a supportive culture is to celebrate wins regularly. As an HR leader, you can assess the inclusivity of those honoured. Are specific individuals being missed? Are women being celebrated as often as men? Use International Women’s Day to honour the fantastic talent of your team, but set the tone for the continued celebration. Fostering a culture of celebrating wins will create a drive and appreciation for all team members.

According to Grant Thornton, women now hold 34% of mid-market senior leadership roles, up +5pp since 2020. So there are improvements, but there’s still a long way to go. What is the makeup of your leadership team? Are women represented? Are you overlooking top female performers? Diversity of thought and approach are essential for high-level decision-making. 

External speakers and mentor program

Driving a culture of continuous learning is a core tenant of HR professionals. They can do it by bringing in a coach or a course on mentoring and encouraging inclusion across teams. In addition, the HR team should provide access to lessons or a stipend for external courses to develop skills for individual contributors. Encouraging continued learning builds confidence, extends employee retention, and improves loyalty to the company. 

Team members most likely have goals to achieve. Are personal and professional development goals included as well? How can you invest further in your employees by encouraging them to improve in key areas? Public speaking, technical training, or learning a new area of the business, for example, are areas that your employees may wish to explore but don’t know how to ask. Include personal and professional development for every employee, so you invest in and level up everyone.

Evaluate your policies

There has been a downward trend in the full-time employee pay gap (about 7.4%), but there is still a 15.5% pay gap for all employees. Based on the rate of change over the last nine years, it would take 112 years to close the gap completely. Look at the salaries of your employees. Are they equal? What is the reason for a difference in pay? Would it cost you much to right-size their income?

Right-sizing pay is not just a financial motivation. The self-worth of those who know they are paid less for doing the same work will immediately improve and their value raised. The pay gap has endured for too long, and organisations have the power to make a difference for the teams and close the gap.

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Provide more flexibility

What benefits do you offer families in your workforce? According to PWC, there has been an unequal burden of unpaid care: “Women spend 7.7 more hours per week on childcare than men. This ‘second shift’, adding up to 31.5 hours per week, equates to almost an extra full-time job. The longer this higher burden on women lasts, the more women are likely to permanently leave (or reduce time spent in) the labour market.”

Remote working has increased dramatically since COVID, requiring changes in policies to provide more flexibility. While remote working is more convenient than office work, it usually means the typical hours are different. Without a commute, workers may start later, end early, change child care needs, etc. Providing flexibility eases personal lives.

Review your website and documentation’s language

The words and images we choose have a meaningful impact on readers and set a tone for an organisation’s culture. For example, do your hiring contracts have male pronouns? Does your website feature all-male leadership or stock photography with primary men? It may be unintentional, but driving more diversity in your workforce requires assessing everything.

Your job descriptions could also send unintentional signals to female applicants. For example, aggressive words like “dominate” or “master” may attract more male candidates than females. Software like textio evaluates the language on your site and documentation to ensure you are publishing neutral language. This doesn’t mean your words can’t be powerful and exciting, but it will ensure you level the field for all qualified applicants.

Participate in university programs 

Women are still underrepresented in STEM, making up 24% of the workforce. Over the last ten years, improvements have been made in engineering (10% more women). However, the technology space has only improved by less than 1%. So how can your organisation invest in the next generation? Offer Work Experience, which helps expose teens to the Workplace, offers a managerial experience for junior team members. See if department heads would like to get involved with universities or local schools to talk about their experience, do a hands-on workshop, or provide a tour to expose students to the Workplace and spark their interest.

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