It is often a rare sight that we see women in powerful roles like that of being the Chief Executive Officer(CEO), or on the advisory board of a Fortune 500 company. Despite coming so far in modern society to achieve greater awareness and emphasis on the need for equality at the workplace, as well as numerous studies having been done to show that gender diverse businesses perform better than their peers, we’ve actually only seen the slightest increase of women in leader roles over the past years. According to the World Economic Forum, it is due to the lack of role models and unequal monetary rights that discourages the next generation of female employees from stepping up to the role and taking on certain challenges that being a leader in the corporate world entails.
The problem of gender imbalances at the workplace does not simply stem from the corporate world alone but rather, is largely influenced throughout society itself. When it comes to family, we are still deeply rooted to the notion that women are expected to play the role of homemaker, while men are to play the role of breadwinner. Understandably, we cannot simply change this as it is after all the personal choice of both parties in a family.
It may not seem like much of an issue right now, however businesses should be aware that gender imbalances within their organisation, especially at managerial positions, may ultimately hurt company performance and profits due to the lack of diversified perspectives when it comes down to decision making.
So the question remains: ‘How can we avoid discouraging women to work upon motherhood?’
It seems that only through aggressive implementation of family-friendly workplace policies will it be possible to nudge the rigid mentality and push for greater equality within all levels at the workplace. Here are a few ideas that businesses may incorporate within day to day operations to better accommodate to the needs of employees with children.
i. Introduce Flexible Work Schedules
Having a Flexible Work Schedule enables an employee to have an option to choose their own start work time and end work time daily, essentially divulging from the standard 9-5 workday. This will be especially beneficial to employees with children as they will be better able to manage their own personal responsibilities. In addition to investing in quality schedule management applications that facilitate Flexible Work Schedules, businesses could also include video conferencing technology to ensure employees are available whenever necessary without having to be physically present at the office or a specific location.
With employees having better control over their own schedule and the ability to work remotely from home, businesses may also benefit from increased motivation and productivity.
ii. Offering Childcare Benefits
Aside from the mandatory Childcare leave that all employees are entitled to here, businesses could take it a step further by offering further benefits such as that of childcare subsidies and easy access for employees to quality childcare services.
Larger companies who can afford it, may even consider the option of setting up their own in-house childcare center that facilitates even greater convenience and assurance to their employees.
iii. Incorporating All-rounded Health & Wellness Activities
It has become necessary in today’s business environment, to ensure the wellness of employees. This includes the provision of support for women to work, and keeping the workplace a safe and conducive environment in order to building a sustainable workforce.
Corporate events that cultivate team bonding should aim to involve activities that are certain to suit both genders, at all ages. In addition, businesses could think about setting up interest groups to facilitate greater interaction of employees, and incorporate other relevant programs that can promote better health and fitness. Mentally and Physically healthy employees will be much more productive and motivated at work.
Whilst the road towards ultimate equality at work remains a challenge, it does not warrant our lack of attention to issues that may give rise to bigger downfalls in the future.