This Women’s History Month, we are taking a look at the most timely and relevant issues surrounding women in the workplace. Published annually since 2015, a study conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org gives a thorough view of the state of women in corporate America and the challenges they face year over year. These challenges only become increasingly relevant as more women join the workforce.
The following Accel5 book summaries analyze three particular issues mentioned in the Women in the Workplace 2019 study and provide expert advice for women in the workplace, and those looking to create an inclusive, diverse working environment.
In “Dig Your Heels In,” Joan Kuhl shows women how to navigate through gender-driven problems at work. She takes on troubling matters like subtle and overt sexism, the lack of opportunities for women, unsupportive workplace cultures and the self-limiting behaviors that hold women back from achieving their goals. Using stories, insights and personal experiences, Kuhl illuminates a better path forward. She shares a series of research-backed strategies that can help women disrupt the corporate world, promote inclusion and advance practices that will foster gender equality and fairness at work.
Women have unique, valid and valuable perspectives that deserve a place in an organizations’ conversations, decisions and overarching plans. Help your organization recognize the importance of inclusive, equitable workplaces by:
- Making the case: The case for digging your heels in (everybody wins). Transforming your organization into a workplace of equality and inclusion is a noble goal, but it can feel intimidating to take on long-standing culture dynamics and stand out as a catalyst for change.
- Making it happen: Setting the stage for success. Be ready for the obstacles that will stand in the way of your success. Some of these obstacles may be self-limiting, while others are rooted in bias.
- Making work worth it: Relationships are everything. Find people in every level of your organization who will support your case for change. You can build these critical relationships by taking the initiative to reach out, communicating why you’re interested in connecting, and following up to ensure that your budding relationships don’t languish.
Be ready for the obstacles that will stand in the way of your success.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Although women represent half of the workforce, they are conspicuously absent from leadership positions in many companies. The evidence is clear that more women are needed in executive suites and on boards of directors. In “Kick Some Glass”, Jennifer W. Martineau and Portia R. Mount identify the common barriers facing many women today.
Here is their advice to women for clearing obstacles and advancing their careers:
- Step into your power. To build power, act with agency. This means seeking opportunities and acting on your own behalf.
- Success your way. Some people view success as having a particular title, earning a large salary, or winning recognition. Defining success in these ways, however, is usually unsatisfying. Take a moment to answer for yourself, “What does success mean to me?”
- Beat the impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is characterized by self-doubt, feelings of being a fraud, and profound insecurities. Women who suffer from impostor syndrome are often goal-oriented overachievers and the only woman or person of color in their workplace.
- Own the room! Take charge of your personal brand. Women professionals must pay attention to their personal brands. Your personal brand differentiates you. It showcases how you lead and the unique ways you provide value to your organization. You can audit your online brand by searching for your own name and then curating your online profile in deliberate ways.
- Pay it forward. Paying it forward is how women change society for the girls who will follow in their footsteps. It’s important for girls to have strong women role models, mentors, and access to positive groups such as the Girls Scouts, Girls Who Code, and the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative.
Although women represent half of the workforce, they are conspicuously absent from leadership positions in many companies.
Honoring a Commitment to Diversity
Leaders in every industry are beginning to recognize the value of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, but few have found ways to produce sustainable results. In “Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People”, Barbara B. Adams demonstrates that change is possible. She provides actionable steps that can help you develop new narratives and construct a sustainable approach to diversity and inclusion.
Develop a sustainably diverse and inclusive workplace by:
- Acknowledging the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in your organization. Diversity initiatives will fail to take hold unless the board of directors, leaders and individual employees embrace the concept of inclusivity.
- Reframing your thinking. Shift your attention from making sweeping changes in your organization’s culture to making behavioral changes that can produce results.
- Making a new plan. Evaluate the ways in which your organizational processes and systems have limited your organization’s past diversity efforts. Consider new approaches to recruiting, hiring and engaging people that will support your goals of building and retaining a diverse, inclusive workforce.
- Learning to navigate differences. Work to overcome your feelings of discomfort in talking about social differences and perspectives in the workplace. These topics can be normalized, but you must take time to assess your organization’s readiness and your own abilities to lead the conversations needed to drive change.
- Measuring the results of your work. Devise a plan to measure and analyze the results of your efforts. Well-designed metrics can help you to assess your progress and gain the perspective needed to propel you forward.
Learn More with Accel5
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