Whether women at work will be on equal footing as men in the next few years or so sadly isn’t really the main question anymore. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take at least 118 years for women to expect equal pay. So while still working on becoming an equal opportunity employer all of us need to look at the foreseeable future to see how we can prepare upcoming female leaders to be ready for the challenges they’ll be facing.

3 things you can do to help strengthen women at your workplace are:

  • Mentoring and coaching to compete with an international workforce
  • Driving other organization to create leadership positions for women while doing the same in your own
  • Providing cross-functional job opportunities to provide diverse experiences

Let’s look at why exactly these steps can be more valuable then anything else you do this year to support gender diversity initiatives in your company and industry.

Working with an International Workforce

In most places (and understandingly so), working with an international workforce is presented as a positive learning experience for everyone involved. And of course there are unarguable benefits of having an international team in your organization.

However, when you look at things from the angle of extreme global competition you can see why this can become complicated. No longer are women competing with other women with the same education, experience, culture and backgrounds. Instead, they’re going to be competing with other women (and men) who are driven to excel and possibly work as expats in societies that provide better opportunities.

Preparing your aspiring women at work to deal with an international workforce requires a lot of mentoring and coaching. It’s not something that can be learned in the books. It’s about developing a strong and confident woman who can drive herself to be her absolute best.

Lack of Leadership Positions

Leading from the influx of international competition and the current lack of openings for female leaders (especially in frontier markets), becoming part of the decisions makers is going to remain or become tougher. It’s a simple concept of supply and demand.

Any female who is currently an aspiring leader sadly has her work cut out for her. Men have some form of assurance that if they work hard and invest in self development there’s a good chance they’ll find a leadership position in the future. But for women it’s a whole different story. Take the US for example. With a population made 50.8% of women only 4.6% are CEOs and 19% hold board seats. The situation in the rest of the world isn’t very different.

How can you help? Create more leadership positions obviously. But simultaneously, convince other organizations to do the same. Play an active role in exponentially creating leadership roles for women in your society.

Project Based Virtual Teams

I would be very surprised if you haven’t worked with virtual teams yet – most forward thinking organizations have learned the supreme benefits of remote teams. For women who are already operating in a complicated work environment, this throws more uncertainty into the mix for planning their careers.

The more diverse experiences one has and the greater flexibility they display in the roles they’re willing to assume offers a greater chance for success. Considering the shorter spans of attention we’re seeing in the younger generation, perhaps this all makes sense. We’re creating work environments that require nimble, quick-thinking and our new generation tends to find this a more motivating than the traditional job roles that existed int he past.

If you’re really looking to help your female workforce be ready for the challenges they’ll face in the future, try to place them in as diverse roles as possible. Give them leadership opportunities and a chance to break their personal limitations to unlock the potential they hold.

Without a doubt, these 3 steps are best suited for organizations that are forward thinking and are not still trying to figure out whether they should have a representation of both genders in key leadership positions. Women at work will continue to face challenge whether we as organizations support them in their careers or not. However, making your company a more gender diverse one is guaranteed to strengthen your leadership. You just have to make the initiatives to get there.