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Fortify a Workplace Culture that Values Women

March 13, 2024
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Most days, my calendar looks like a crazy quilt of overlapping and wall-to-wall online meetings, something that was barely on my radar a few short years ago. As we work from home, family and pets can make uninvited appearances, causing work/life integration to take on a new meaning, especially for women.

Many of us feel like we shoulder more than one full-time job as we juggle work and home life, which means millions of parents don’t get a break or help in meeting the demands of both work and family. Those bearing the heaviest burden are women.

Now that we’re taxed with working hybrid schedules while also caring for those at home, how do we retain the women who have been hanging in there and help them thrive?

  • Schedule fewer meetings: While we’ve become accustomed to virtual meeting platforms like Teams, many of us are reaching the point of digital meeting burnout. Where we might have once handled a discussion with a brief phone call, now we’re scheduled for a face-to-face encounter. This often takes up more time, not to mention notable effort to appear professional when your five-year-old has his face pressed to the glass door of your home office. Undoubtedly, there are simply more meetings now than ever before because it’s so easy to schedule them, and there’s no need to space them apart to allow for travel. It’s time to dial back on the digital meetings and employ them only when it makes sense.
  • Create a culture that values women: When there are women in the C-suite, an organization sends a clear message about their value. Some companies, like Oswald, have created a Women’s Leadership Council to elevate and support women as they navigate their careers in a male-dominated industry. Internal organizations within a company can address women’s issues, offer relevant programs and respond to their concerns, letting them know they’re important.
  • Keep communication lines open: As we continue to work remotely, it’s important to touch base with your employees, both women and men. It eases the stress that many working mothers may be feeling when their challenges are acknowledged and their successes are openly praised. Host bi-weekly chats to keep spirits up and identify those who may be struggling. Yes, we’ve talked about business, but the point of these chats is to connect as coworkers who are often friends, too. Ask about children and pets and play a few virtual games to stay connected and take a break together.
  • Reveal your human side: There’s a reason someone once said, “Misery loves company,” and it stuck. People simply don’t like to feel alone when they’re battling challenges. It helps to know that everyone, even the office leader, doesn’t have it all together all the time.
  • Reevaluate workloads: Divide the workload evenly. Make sure employees know which aspects of their jobs are critical so they can properly focus on excelling where it really counts.
  • Provide support outlets: Make sure your employees know how to access your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for short-term counseling, assessments and referrals related to personal and/or work-related problems. Consider subsidizing the cost of emergency child care or educational assistance. Oswald has a tutorial reimbursement policy to offset the cost of professional help during remote education periods.
  • Keep it flexible: Although the demands of working from home while caring for and/or educating children have been great, there have been benefits, too. Eliminating commute time has afforded more time for healthy meal prep, saved money on gas and car maintenance and allowed people to get more sleep. With life and work truly integrated, people have been able to schedule home repairs without taking time away from work. Employers who continue to offer the ability to work from home at least two or three days a week will be appealing to working mothers.

The days of working with a toddler clinging to your leg and a cat on your keyboard are likely the new reality. We have a serendipitous opportunity to improve all employees’ quality of life while retaining women and bringing those who may have left back into the workplace.

“Going through things you never thought you’d go through will only take you to places you never thought you’d get to.” -Morgan Harper Nichols, musician, writer, artist


View more from the Women’s Leadership Blog Series.

 

This blog was originally posted on April 20, 2021 and has been updated.