• Forget About What Your Company May (or May Not) Be Doing to Support Women

    I am an avid reader. Fiction, non-fiction, management books, research studies, sports reports, news articles — well, you get the point.

    I’m also very much in tune with women’s issues, particularly in the workplace, having read countless articles on the wage gap, the disparity between men and women in management positions, and differences in how men and women negotiate, among others. All issues that we need to collectively work to improve.

    All of these studies clearly indicate there is much progress to be made and there are tangible things companies can do to help address these issues. But for a moment, let’s forget about what our companies may or may not be doing to help create more opportunities for women.

    Instead, let’s focus on ourselves, with one simple question to ask: What are you doing to help and support women in achieving their career goals?

    Institutional change is influenced by the voice of the masses, but change can begin with a single voice. Here are just two of many small things that we can all do to help other women achieve success in the workplace.

    • Raise Awareness: I read an article recently about gender intelligence. I find it hard to believe that in 2015, there are still people who believe that gender issues no longer exist. I experienced this first-hand last year when the Women in Workers’ Compensation Leadership Forum was launched. During the planning phase, I heard comments directly and indirectly questioning why we would host this event, denying that gender biases still existed.One of the most important discussions women can have in the workplace involves educating our colleagues about gender intelligence. Within the workers’ compensation market, we should work on creating gender-intelligent workplaces. This begins by taking the opportunity to address women’s issues with peers and leaders alike. When we can remove perceived or real emotion from the conversation and provide objective, fact-based information in our discussions, we will be able to influence institutional change to create more workplace opportunity for women.
    •  Advocate: Mentorship and sponsorship programs can be formal or informal. Hiring and promotion decisions are often influenced by opinions formed by the hiring manager based on information received from colleagues. Studies have shown that women are typically not as skilled as our male counterparts at promoting ourselves. We tend to use “we” and not “I” when speaking about accomplishments, too often going out of our way to extend the spotlight to others instead of taking personal credit for the accomplishment. So, aside from working to take more credit when credit is due, one of the best things we can do to help other women is to promote their accomplishments. When you see an up and coming star, make sure you are advocating for that person. Let’s go out of our way to share the accomplishments of other women with senior leaders. Be aware of your influence and use it to help younger employees on their path to success. You may be planting a seed that grows into an opportunity in the future.

    There are so many other ways we can help support women in our industry, and I’ll likely post more ideas in future articles, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you doing to support women in their career goals?

    Betty James
    Artemis Emslie
    CEO, myMatrixx
    President of the Alliance of Women in Workers' Compensation

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