A Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace
We’ve come a long way from the suffragette movement of the early 1900s, but a look at most positions of power–from Fortune 500 companies all the way to Congress and the White House–shows that although women have the right to vote, they’re still struggling to find equality with their male counterparts. In fact, in 2018 only 25 Fortune 500 CEOs were women (and only two of those on the list were women of color.) Still, it’s worth taking the time to dwell on more current achievement’s women have made in recent years.
In 2018 alone, a record number of women were elected to political office across the United States. As more and more women move into positions of power, from middle management all the way to becoming world leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel and the United Kingdom’s Theresa May, there appears to have been a shift in the way women approach their careers.
Women are no longer apologizing for knowing what they want and going after it, whether that’s with their careers, relationships, or having children. Women realize that they need not sacrifice starting a family to achieve success. Instead, they’re demanding equality in their personal relationships in addition to their professional ones, so their partners can pick up some of the slack when it comes to chores and raising the kids.
Paid maternity leave often means women don’t need to choose between going back to work right after birth or bonding with their newborns. And new mothers are having an easier time transitioning back to the workplace after maternity leave ends because of the growing awareness of the need for dedicated lactation rooms in offices. By focusing on such an important health need, workplaces are more likely to retain female talent after their children are born. Former Yahoo president Marissa Mayer famously added a nursery next to her office two weeks after giving birth, so she could return to work.
Although advances have been made, the facts are, that women on average still make less money on the dollar than their male counterparts do for the same work. Pay disparities often begin early and follow a woman throughout her career. This happens because male candidates are more likely to negotiate salary during the hiring process. One way to combat this is to be upfront and transparent to all candidates about what a company is willing to pay for a particular position.
A lot of the inequalities begin before a woman is even hired. For instance, if you notice that your office is male-dominated, unconscious bias during the hiring process might be the culprit. Consider moving to a blind resume review process where hiring managers wouldn’t know a person’s gender until the person interviews.
Progress is happening, but it’s slow. So how can you help? Find a young woman in your workplace or community and take her under your wing as her mentor. Advocate for female-friendly policies like paid family leave and lactation rooms. If we all do what we can, then eventually women’s equality will be a reality instead of a possibility.