One of the major lessons from 2020 and a worldwide pandemic has been how our workplaces continue to fail women, specifically mothers and women of color. As women continue to shoulder the majority of caregiving and domestic responsibilities, and vulnerable industries like hospitality are often dominated by women of color, the past 12 months have seen a huge increase in women leaving the workforce.
Women are leaving jobs or reducing hours to care for children and family members, and millions more were laid off or have experienced reduced work due to travel and dining restrictions. These issues won’t be solved overnight, but there are a few ways employers can be part of the solution.
Tips for hiring and supporting women on your team
Gender-neutral job descriptions. This is a small change with a huge impact. Workers of any gender should be able to envision themselves working on your team, and removing gendered language from the description gives more confidence to the job seeker and ensures your company is being viewed as inclusive.
Don’t rule out candidates with resume gaps. Maybe a woman had to take a step back from work to care for out-of-school children in the pandemic, or another woman was laid off due to economic impacts and is still looking for the right role. Extending empathy and valuing a candidate’s skills will go further in helping you find the best person for the job.
Be upfront about your benefits. Piggybacking off what to include in your job description, make it clear your company supports families and women in leadership positions. You can do this on your career site or at the individual job posting level. This strategy will play out differently at each company, but share your parental leave policy, work from home options, professional development opportunities, your diverse leadership teams and any other proactive communication about your culture and benefits.
Adequate childcare and family resources. Speaking of benefits – get more family-friendly! Whether you can offer an onsite daycare center or simply subside part of the cost of child care, find ways to support mothers and parents. You could also consider offering financial support for adoption services, less expensive healthcare for families and more.
Remote work and flexible hours. Work from home is still popular and preferred because it allows employees flexibility and a more personalized work day, especially for working moms and parents. Offering remote work or flexible schedules – allowing team members to set their own hours within reason – can actually improve diversity and retention on teams. Give parents the opportunity to pick up their child from school or daycare, spend quality time with family, and still do great work.
Offer training. Part of keeping women engaged in the workforce includes the whole team understanding the biases women face. Managers on all teams should be aware of interpersonal challenges, like how often the women on your team are able to participate in meetings or are getting interrupted and talked over. When you are planning social events or need someone to handle admin tasks, which team members come to mind? Are they all women? If you’re discussing familial duties or childcare, are you only talking about women? These are the topics your team members should be educated about and trained on to make your workplace more supportive of women.
Enlist the men on your team. Men can play a crucial role in improving women’s work lives. With adequate training and insights, men should serve as allies in breaking down barriers. Assign men to plan events or take on admin duties, and male managers can ensure women have equal access to big presentations, speaking opportunities or professional development. Plus, ensuring your policies are focused on “parents” rather than by specific gender, workplaces can foster an environment where men feel just as responsible for caregiving and other roles that statistically and stereotypically fall to women.