Becoming Inclusive Leaders For Women
It’s important to create a welcoming environment for your entire workforce, and that means working to become gender inclusive. Learn what that means, why it matters, and what you can start working on right now to be inclusive leaders for women.
Organizations with gender-inclusive cultures consistently achieve superior business results in retention, productivity, and profitability. Gender inclusion goes beyond diversity quotas and affirmative action to ensure that both men and women feel recognized, valued, and believe that they have full access to growth opportunities. Inclusion strategies promote a deep sense of engagement throughout the organization which is critical for innovation and the bottom line. The objectives for this post are to:
- Appreciate the importance of gender inclusivity in the workplace.
- Introduce a range of reflection tools to help identify the current status of gender in your workplace.
- Encourage practical actions that will help you develop and shape your organizational culture into one that is more welcoming and inclusive.
How Male Bosses Can Be Inclusive Leaders For Women
Here are five ways male leaders can support gender parity and equality and at the same time be more gender-sensitive.
- Be a champion on gender issues – Being a gender champion includes being supportive of and taking on an active role in gender initiatives. Being a champion also means taking the time to explain to others why these initiatives are important for the future of the organization. In addition to being a champion yourself, it is also imperative that you build a dedicated team of gender champions and advisers. These functions are particularly important for driving change within an organization and for helping to implement various policies and strategies. Surrounding yourself with people that have the knowledge and expertise to take this forward will go a long way in supporting the change you want to see.
- Communicate in a gender-sensitive manner – An effective leader sets the tone for the direction and work of their organization. As a leader, you should ensure that your messaging is consistent across platforms and audiences, particularly when it comes to your organization’s gender equality objectives. This also means being inclusive in the language that is used both verbally and in writing; derogatory or discriminatory language should never be tolerated. As a leader, you set the example.
- Promote gender balance & diversity – Continuously seek to increase the equal representation of people as part of work teams and committees, and within the larger organization, as well as greater representation from diverse groups. At the same time, leaders should work to create a space for all voices to be heard. This means paying greater attention to gendered experiences, including who has access to power and whose voices are valued over others. An effective leader views both women and men as equal contributors to the organization and to its work and is not afraid to encourage women to take on different roles and ensure their skills don’t go unnoticed.
- Support and advance gender-specific initiatives – An effective leader recognizes women’s and men’s different needs and experiences and seeks to ensure that these do not put either, and women in particular, at a disadvantage. This also means ensuring women and men have the same opportunities to advance in their careers and be promoted to higher positions. In some cases, this may mean creating gender-specific programs for women “to bring out their best selves.” “Mentoring, helping other women up the ladder, and making women more visible” are important strategies for promoting gender equality in the workplace.
- Challenge discriminatory practices – This includes challenging workplace practices, to make them more gender-sensitive. As a leader, it is crucial that you eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender, especially when it comes to family and caring responsibilities. At the same time, it’s important to recognize and call out any potential conscious or unconscious gender biases or mindsets that create invisible barriers for women. (For a great description of some of these implicit biases, see Recognizing & Responding to Implicit Bias.
Other biases around sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, and family status must also be identified and challenged. For more information on mitigating unconscious bias see Disrupting Unconscious Bias in The Workplace.
Demonstrating a strong commitment to zero tolerance toward sexual assault and harassment is also an important means of advancing and promoting gender equality.
These five areas are certainly not exhaustive, and some of these should already be part of a gender equity and inclusion strategy if it exists. Still, I hope this list can provide a good starting point or additional food for thought
The best way to learn more about inclusive leadership development, gender equity, and gender equality for your organization, let’s talk! Schedule a 30-minute consult with me so we may discuss your DEI strategy and training or coaching needs.
Download the FREE E-book: The CHRO’s Guide to Advancing Workplace DEIB: A Human Resource Leader’s Guide to Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging in the Workplace. DOWNLOAD HERE
As CEO and Principal Consultant of Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC, Charlotte Hughes MS, CDP, SHRBP, CPLP brings a diverse background as an accomplished Talent and Organizational Development and Diversity & Inclusion global thought leader and practitioner for several major Fortune 100 companies and one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Charlotte delivers more than 60 speeches and facilitates roughly the same number of training workshops each year.
Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC: A Strategic Consulting Firm Specializing in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) as a Business Strategy. A Certified Woman-Owned & Minority-Owned Business.
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