Work and Wellbeing · 8 March 2022

How to Improve Support for Women in the Workplace

international women's day

Dr Jan Smith is a leading chartered psychologist, she is the founder of Healthy You Ltd. 
Having gender equality within teams is undeniably beneficial.  When women are recruited into teams and senior positions, there is a boost in productivity and profitability. 

Over the past 15 years, there has been significant progress in women having more senior leadership positions across different industries.  For example, the FTSE boasts that 50% more women now sit at board level than five years ago.  While this is a welcomed change, don’t let the numbers fool you because the real story lies behind them.

Gender diversity is lacking, with women from different ethnic backgrounds disproportionately represented.  Furthermore, menopause symptoms force women out of the workplace, with more than 1 million having to leave their careers.  Given this age group is the fastest-growing demographic, more needs to be done.  Many women believe that going on maternity leave negatively affects their careers.  Consequently, they are reluctant to start a family and can experience stigma from colleagues when pregnant.  Although there has been slow and steady progress for women in competitive industries, the covid pandemic halted this.  During this time, women tended to take on more familial responsibilities while juggling their jobs.  As a result, women felt more physical and emotional challenges than their male colleagues during this time.  In particular, working mothers, women in senior management positions, and black women were more adversely affected.

Tips for Employers

Supporting women in the workplace is immensely beneficial to the organisation.  Below are some suggestions to achieve this.

  1. Progressive diversity, equality, and inclusion policies: increasingly, younger women are looking at how employers embed diversity, equality, and inclusion into their organisations. This might take the form of flexible working hours and tailored absence policies.
  2. Create emotionally safe workplaces: when these are in place, topics such as menopause can be openly discussed without fear of retribution or stigma.
  3. Training: understanding the difficulties female employees experience and ways to overcome these is a proactive step to creating an inclusive organisation.
  4. Range of support: what might be helpful for one person will be less beneficial for another and vice versa. Therefore, having a range of support women can access will be useful, like support groups, occupational health, and digital solutions.
Tips for Employees


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Dr Jan Smith is a chartered psychologist specialising in work place mental health. She has over 15 years experience at the forefront of the industry.

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