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Women continue to face an uphill struggle when it comes to making their mark in the corporate world. Our Women@Work survey investigated and highlighted many of the challenges they face. These issues and obstacles are real and threaten their ability to grow, be recognized and valued for their contributions.

Why is it important to address these issues? Well to start off, women make up a majority of the global population. Alienating and disenfranchising this large group reduces any business’ and society’s chances of succeeding as you’re not exploiting their potential. Secondly, women strengthen and enrich your workforce with not only diversity, but how they approach challenges and their creativity.

So, how do we take steps to support and encourage women? Well it all starts with the leadership – yes it starts with you! As the leader of your organization you’re in the critical position to shift women’s uphill struggle into a conducive environment where they can flourish and grow. Here’s how.

1. Alter Mindsets

Yes the pressure is most on you as the leader to alter your mindset and be the torchbearer of change, but you can’t do it alone. You’ll need the support of everyone in the organization, starting with your top management all the way down and to the side. The mindset that women will be treated equally is the mantra that should permeate to every corner of your organization. Bring everyone onboard this mindset and make a stand that this vision is everything that everyone believes in. It shouldn’t just be something they do because “the boss wants it this way”. Everyone in your organization should believe in it and live by it.

2. Broaden Their Scope

Women continue to be assigned ‘supporting roles’ in most organizations. When we think of call center agents, back office operations, tellers and customer relationship representatives we’ll almost always consider women for such roles. Without undermining the importance of these roles, are you suggesting that women can’t handle bigger roles with more responsibilities? You need to take steps to broaden their scope and roles so that you’re truly challenging women and tapping into their full potential. Not only that, women need to be hired in every function and job possible. No matter what the role or job requirement, approach filling a vacancy without any gender bias. What’s needed is placing women in roles that are directly contributing to your company’s success, management and strategic roles and roles that allow them more decision making.

3. Remove Glass Ceilings

Most women feel that their career progression is slow and abruptly cut short. This ties in with my previous point in that women need to be provided broader scope and responsibilities. And that’s why it’s imperative that you not only increase their scope of work but also recognize that you need to remove the imaginary glass ceiling you’ve placed on their career. Find out what career aspirations they have and how you can support their growth. Don’t just assume this is it for them.

4. Pay Them Fairly

There’s been so much talk and controversy about equal pay and how women aren’t getting their fair share or their rightful compensation, yet there’s been light done to address it. This is your opportunity to build on your leadership legacy by putting this simple issue to rest, for good! Talk to your HR today and make it happen. Stop procrastinating and analyzing too much and just go ahead and approve a compensation plan that doesn’t discriminate against women.

5. Engage Women

You may have an awesome employee engagement strategy and program but what you simultaneously need is an engagement plan that’s specifically focusing on women. Connect with your female workforce and learn how you and everyone else can support them, guide them and help them grow and progress. What learning opportunities can you provide them? What policies can you amend to help them strike work-life balance? What procedures can you implement to make the work environment more favorable for them? Rather than speculating and seeing what other organizations are doing, connect with your own female workforce and understand their specific needs.

These five tips are just the starting points of how you can seriously impact and address women’s uphill struggle in the workplace. These are some of the simple shifts that you can easily implement and build upon. Once you’ve done these, you’ll be on track to creating a diverse, strong and highly empowered workforce that’ll contribute massively to your company’s success.