A company needs to be as inclusive as possible. This means that it needs to be fit for a wide variety of individuals, with gender diversity being of particular performance. Indeed, gender diversity in the workplace is no longer a bonus that companies need to provide employees, instead it has become essential for the survival of an enterprise for very practical reasons.
This is because of the fact that gender diversity helps you incorporate the talents of the entire pool of employees that you could potentially take advantage of. A diverse team will bring a wide range of experiences to the table, thus allowing the team to think outside the box. India has the second largest population in the world, and the proportion of women that are completing university is higher than ever. This is a talent pool that could potentially provide enormous benefits to companies both in the short run as well as the long run.
In spite of the enormous advantages that could be enjoyed by incorporating more women into the workforce, India does a pretty poor job of it. There are only nine countries that do worse than India in terms of enabling the participation of women in the workforce according to statistics that were recently published by the International Labor Organization. A little over quarter of women living in India actively work full time. This is just over half of the average that is seen across the world, where at least half of all women are actively working full time jobs.
More and more women are entering the workforce every day, and we are seeing an enormous rise in the number of women in positions of authority as well. By facilitating the entry of more women into the workforce and enabling their rise to leadership positions within the corporate sector, countries can give their GDPs a huge boost. India could potentially add hundreds of billions of dollars to its GDP within half a decade if it only increases its female workforce by a meager ten percent. One can imagine the vast benefits that India’s economy could receive if female participation in the workforce manages to reach the international average of fifty percent.
SAP Labs India is one of the most popular places for women to work, and for good reason. They have done a great deal to ensure that female employees are able to work at their offices with ease. This includes the introduction of a number of policies that are pro-women in the workplace. One of the most important aspects of their overall policies is the attention that was paid to significant events in the lives of their female employees.
Moments in the careers of the women working at SAP Labs were celebrated to encourage further growth from other women. Women were also treated with particular respect after a return from things like maternity leave. The classic and often toxic culture of hostility towards career oriented women has no place in the modern office.
Listed below are three different approaches that companies can incorporate into their workplace policies in order to facilitate the addition of as many women as possible in the workforce, as well as to ensure that these women are given every opportunity to rise up the ranks and make their mark in the company that they have chosen to work at.
#1 Encourage Aspirations to Leadership Roles
As has already been mentioned above, women in leadership roles is not just fair, it is good for the economy as well as the companies that are allowing this to happen. If you want the women that work for your company to have as many opportunities as possible, one thing that you can do is to show them where their careers could go if they work hard enough.
One of the most important aspects of this is to have role models that they can follow. Hiring women in leadership roles can give the women at the bottom of the ladder a vision of what they could achieve if they legitimately start working hard enough to climb the ladder and get to the very top.
That being said, one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of companies tend to make is that they show women what they can achieve but don’t give them any of the tools they would need to do so. Training the women in your workforce to succeed is an essential aspect of facilitating their forward momentum. Teaching them leadership skills will allow them to adopt leadership positions at some point in their career, and the most important thing to remember is that the earlier you start giving them these skills the more likely they are to apply them at some point in their career.
One of the most widely known programs of SAP Labs is the Aspire, Connect, Excel program, also frequently referred to as the ACE program. This program is designed to support women that want to become experts in their fields. The Confluence program is another program that is designed to help women learn how to manage people in an office, something that is very important for the continued growth of a particular company.
ACE programs involve women getting partnered up with a sponsor who already has a senior role within a company. This sponsor becomes a mentor of sorts, someone that would guide the women that are being sponsored and teach them how to become experts in the roles that they have chosen to work in. These mentors also give women networking opportunities so that they can create a network of their own.
In the Confluence programs, the basic premise remains the same but the role of the sponsor becomes a little different. The sponsor’s role is to help the women that are being sponsored develop the skills necessary to lead teams and manage people. The building of a network is one of the most important aspects of these programs as well.
#2 Provide Easy Access to Mentors
Leadership programs are great, but one of the biggest problems with a lot of companies out there is the fact that they think that these mentorship programs are an easy fix that would allow them to move on having done their jobs. These programs are not enough. A culture needs to be developed that would make it easier for women to enjoy working at a specific place.
An extremely important element in making your place of work fit for women is to provide them access to good mentors. Employees themselves will tell you that having a mentor can make it a lot easier to grow in an office. Speed mentoring sessions can help as many employees get access to this kind of mentorship as possible. The great thing about speed mentoring is that it gives employees access to a wide variety of mentors. What’s good for one employee will not be good for another, so it is important to give employees a choice between mentors so that they can pick one that would facilitate the kind of growth that they are looking for.
The gist of a speed mentoring session is that it needs to take up as little time as possible, whilst also giving employees enough time to get to know each mentor at least on the surface. Two hours is the happy medium that you need to meet. If you have eight mentors, enough for everyone to pick someone that they are happy working with, then each mentor gets fifteen minutes with the employees. These fifteen minutes are more than enough to help your employees figure out whether the mentor will provide them with the sort of guidance that they need or not.
#3 Encourage Good Work-Life Balance
One of the biggest barriers for women that want to excel within a particular company is the absence of work-life balance. Work models need to be changed in order to make female participation as easy as possible. This isn’t just a women centric thing either, companies all over the world are realizing that overworking employees does more harm than good. Creating a company culture that allows woman to enjoy a good work-life balance will make it easier for them to enter the workforce. There are a number of things that you can do in order to make your place of work hospitable to women.
Giving employees the opportunity to take sabbaticals for adoption or surrogacy is a great step in the right direction. That being said, it is only a first step after all. Facilitating smooth reentry in the workforce is also important. Make women feel welcomed when they come back from an extended leave, and try to make it so that they don’t feel like said leave was a burden because it is something that they are entitled to. Offer part time work during reintegration so that women don’t suddenly feel burdened by a mountain of work as soon as they return.