Empowering Women & Minorities In The Workplace

For many decades, the workplace has been the sole stomping ground of the rich, white businessman. And sure, we’re not saying that rich white men don’t have anything to contribute to the world of business, but women and minorities have started to get together and ask what on earth is going on here, and why are skilled people being overlooked? The days of the businessman upholding a members-only vibe are certainly being brought into question.

But the real issue – which few people actually know the answer to – is how do you empower women and minorities in the workplace, and really empower them, without it seeming like you’re just doing the bare minimum required to appear liberal and forward-thinking? If you’re over the idea of just scraping by when it comes to empowerment in your workplace, then there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. We’ve noted down some of them here.

 

 

Speak to women and minorities

OK, we’re going to start out with the easiest thing ever here, and it’s something that every business owner should be doing. One of the first steps towards helping to empower your team is realizing that women and minorities have a totally different experience in the workplace. From the way that they navigate their relationships with others to how confident they are in their abilities, there are noticeable differences in many cases.

If you want to prevent this as much as possible, then you need to be aware of it and speak to your team members about the issues that they are facing. It may sound like a pretty crazy idea, but having a meeting that is solely for self-identifying women and minorities (including people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals) allows them to share their ideas and feelings, with the sole aim of not needing these meetings in the future.

 

Call out mansplaining

A phenomenon that most women and minorities are all too familiar with is mansplaining, and it can be a real scourge in the workplace. As a woman, you’ll know that you can completely understand a subject – in fact, you could have 20 PhDs in the field – and a guy will try to explain it to you as if you’re an alien from outer space, visiting earth for the first time ever. Of course, this is a mild exaggeration, but the point still stands.

As a business owner, you will be doing women and minority people a huge favor by calling out this kind of behavior. It may seem like it’s not too significant at the time, but it can make people doubt their abilities, and it’s pretty tiring for women to keep reminding men that they weren’t born yesterday. You can do this in a positive way, for example, saying things like: ‘X understands this subject, shall we move onto something else?’

 

Consider them for promotion first

OK, before you get too involved in the positive discrimination debate – which is still alive and kicking – bear with us here. One of the primary issues for women and minorities in the workplace is that they feel less confident in their abilities (on the whole) and as such, are more likely to take a bit of a backseat when it comes to promotions. They are also more likely to believe that a man who is less qualified for the role is more suitable for the promotion.

There are many other stats and truths here, such as the fact that women are less likely to reapply for the same roles when rejected as men are, but the most important thing here is to seek out women and minorities for promotions, and encourage them to apply. It may not be something that they’ve even considered due to some unconscious lack of belief in their abilities, so speak to those women who would be great for the role, and try to empower them!

 

 

Celebrate your differences

As we all know in 2019, people come in all different shapes, sizes, sexualities… you name it, we all bring something unique into the workplace. And this is what makes us great; we can all contribute distinct, ‘us’ things to our work, and our varied backgrounds allow us to have different outlooks on problems, ideas, and situations. We’d all agree that this is a pretty brilliant thing, and is certainly worth celebrating, right?

Step one will come in useful here, and it’s important to talk to women and minorities in your office to see how they would like to celebrate the differences (and similarities) that bind you. Perhaps you would like to create a business float for Gay Pride, or you’re going to get your hands on some rainbow lanyards, or you’re going to fundraise for charities chosen by women and minorities. Whatever you do, celebrate your differences and give people a voice!

 

Reassess how much you pay people

As many women and minorities have experienced at some point, there are situations where they are not paid appropriately for their skills and the work that they’re doing, and let’s be real here… they’re not being paid as much as their male counterparts. This is for many reasons, but some have attributed it to women being less likely to ask for bigger pay packages. Nevertheless, women do deserve equal pay when they’re doing the same role, with the same experience.

This may not be an issue in your office, and if it’s not, then brilliant! However, you may be paying your female employees less, without even realizing that you’re doing so (perhaps they have never asked for a raise – or you didn’t give it to them – or they didn’t negotiate a higher salary with you when they took the position). Reassess how much you’re paying your team members, and look for discrepancies based upon gender, race, and sexuality.

 

Be accommodating to mothers

The biggest challenge that many women have faced in their careers is trying to reconcile their working life with motherhood, and screaming at the top of their lungs from the rooftops to their potential bosses, hey, I may have a baby or get pregnant at some point in the future, but you can still hire me. Some bosses are simply turned off by the idea that a woman could get pregnant, which is an extremely sexist way to hire for your team.

In the event that a woman does get pregnant whilst working for you, you should do what you can to accommodate this, by having a fair maternal leave policy and supporting them back into work at a pace that is suitable for them. Flexible working is also key here, as it allows women to carry on their career from home whilst they manage the responsibilities of motherhood. A generous paternal leave policy is also key for female empowerment.

 

 

Stamp out sexual harassment

Something else that women and minorities unfortunately experience more than anybody else is sexual harassment, and it can be extremely common in the workplace if it isn’t stamped out by business leaders. Have a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment, in all of its various forms. This includes uncomfortable sexual jokes, physical touching and assault, and emails and other correspondence that is sexual (or sexist) in nature.

Not only is this behavior illegal, but it can make women and minorities feel greatly uncomfortable and violated. It can cause them to quit their jobs, fear for their safety, or just generally dread coming into work in the morning. Have an open door policy for anybody who wants to discuss sexual harassment, and don’t go easy on offenders. It’s bad news for both your reputation as a business, and the wellbeing of women and minorities in your team.

 

 

 

 

 

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