Four crucial lessons to build inclusive workplaces for women

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    Today’s workplace has undergone a monumental change, with the pandemic playing a catalyst role in redefining how our work environment evolves. In a largely work-from-home format, the work roles have also undergone a sea change where women now have to manage personal and professional lives in a far more dynamic equilibrium.

    Amidst shifting sensibilities, the women workforce faces greater challenges in the realm of a hybrid workspace, making the push towards creating a diverse and inclusive workspace more relevant than ever.

    While making future workspaces more gender-balanced and successful, one needs to take concerted steps to empower women to take up more leadership roles in dynamic work environments. Here are four ways to do it:

    Incorporate a ‘Women-first’ priority into your mission statement

    Identify the change you want to create and align your vision and mission statements to it. Ensure that conversations surrounding inclusion, diversity, and women empowerment exist in your organization. If not, then get the conversation started. By doing this, you will notice areas in your organization that can be made more diverse. This will also help create policies and programs to develop women leaders at a more granular level.

    Visibility of both diversity and inclusion as mandates is crucial for the workforce. It strengthens the organizational stance on diversity and inclusion, making it known that these are important for the culture. One must ensure that the message is conveyed even with the limitations of the work-from-home scenario. This will allow for ingraining a ‘Women-First’ approach into your organizational ethos.

    Create mentorship programs

    The hybrid work environment has allowed greater interactions of women leaders that otherwise were restricted by location. In this environment, it is an organization’s responsibility to encourage women employees to build their brand as women leaders. Introduce mentorship programs and induce a culture of learning and networking that enables women to pursue leadership roles in their journey.

    For instance, HR leaders and top management can collaborate closely to ensure the development and growth of women leaders within the organization. Designing programs for mid-management level women to support and strengthen their aspirations for better succession planning also goes a long way in grooming these upcoming leaders. Similarly, creating programs for high-potential, top-level women in management help overcome self-limiting barriers while enabling them to demonstrate their leadership traits and stretch beyond to take on higher roles. This way, organizations can create a talent pool of women in leadership who are poised to achieve success in hybrid environments.

    Leverage the right policies

    An organization that is ready for a diverse workforce will attract a diverse workforce. Developing and implementing policies should be well-researched and should cater to the target audience. Utilizing the knowledge and experience of women in the organization to customize HR policies could be a great way to start the inclusion journey.

    Another good practice to establish at an organizational level, especially in hybrid situations, is to create women-friendly environments that cater to their individual needs. Many reports indicate that women shouldering dual roles at home and work are more likely to burn out. Hence, offering Flexi-time and Flexi-pay are ways to ensure efficiency and productivity while enabling women to grow personally and professionally. Another pivotal focus area could be to protect the roles of returning women by creating learning and development programs that equip them with the right skills to navigate a hybrid and digital model.

    Set measurable development goals and deadlines to achieve them

    Goals anchored in empowering women at the workplace need to be visible to the whole organization and regularly tracked. As a good practice to track the progress of the efforts, goal setting allows you to hold everyone in your organization accountable to increase diversity and inclusion. Incorporating these goals in individual development programs will help enhance accountability and will enable rightful focus.

    Once goal setting is done, defining deadlines for their achievement will help measure successes and enable taking one step at a time towards the larger mission. Setting deadlines also helps in reflecting on the achievements, strategy, and vision. This becomes the right stepping stone towards building a diverse and inclusive workplace that welcomes one and all.

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    Disclaimer

    Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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