How to Empower Women in Business

Is your company’s culture designed to empower more women in business? Encouraging gender diversity in the workplace not only opens the door to a broader range of talent, it can help you break into new markets. In fact, according to a business case put forward by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, recruiting, training, and retaining more women is one of the best ways to gain a competitive advantage.

Many of Canada’s largest corporations have long since recognized that inclusiveness is essential for allowing the most talented employees to rise to the top. So how can your organization empower women in business and grow a better bottom line in the process? Setting goals to hire, mentor, and promote more women is a good place to start.

Hire More Women

Hiring the best talent is every successful company’s goal, and taking a candidate’s education into account is usually a big part of that.

As of 2016, more than 40% of Canadian women aged 25-34 held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with just 29% of men. But a higher level of education hasn’t necessarily translated into a higher level of pay. Biases in hiring and compensation continue to leave women earning significantly less than their male counterparts.

Finding ways to introduce impartiality into your recruitment process – and making sure you offer equal pay for equal work at every stage of their employment – will entice more talented women to your business.

Bear in mind, however, that simply setting a hiring quota won’t automatically improve your organization’s performance. After getting their foot in the door, one of the biggest hurdles that women face in the workplace is having their talents nurtured and recognized.

Mentor More Women

Achieving greater success with your business can’t happen without taking steps to cultivate the talent you’ve hired. As a result, successfully preparing women to shoulder more responsibility should be part of your company’s regular mentorship process.

To help more women sharpen their supervisory skills, consider these mentoring best practices:

  • Rather than taking a teacher-student approach, focus on cultivating authentic relationships
  • Emphasize soft skills like critical thinking and effective communication over job proficiency
  • Stay open to unconventional thinking: creativity promotes innovation
  • Demonstrate commitment to your employees’ growth in a way that’s consistent and clear

Providing women with the tools they need to succeed is essential for helping them become respected as managers. Remember, gender aside, informed business owners care less about creating followers and more about creating other leaders.

Promote More Women

Management teams enriched by different backgrounds and life experiences have been shown to achieve:

  1. Better success generating products and services that appeal to a wider range of customers
  2. Greater profitability thanks to a broader client base
  3. More interest from investors in the long run

When you promote fewer women to decision-making positions, however, your business risks missing out on the unique perspectives and ideas that frequently contribute to such accomplishments.

It’s important to recognize that, while both men and women tend to be promoted based on performance and potential, men still have an advantage in many cases because so many promotion decisions come down to candidate confidence.

In fact, despite the fact that key indicators of good leadership show women usually outperform men, research suggests that women who are equally competent are often bypassed in favour of overconfident men.

If you really want to empower women in your workplace – and improve your company’s performance at the same time – make sure your business practices reflect that, and that you’re using the same yardstick to measure everyone equally.

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