In a recent post, we answered the question what is a women’s initiative and later we’ll be understanding how to to start one. But today we answer the critical question:
When do you need a women’s initiative?
What are the signs that your organization might benefit from an organized women’s group? It might be a formalized employee resource group (sometimes called “ERGs”) or a more informal “affinity” group, but the needs typically fall into a few categories.
Three indicators your company may need a women’s initiative:
- Your organization has made a pledge for equality, but hasn’t taken action yet. In recent years, many companies have taken the pledge to achieve gender equality—both in terms of wages and representation. If your company has made this commitment (by signing on the dotted line or simply stating it) but hasn’t made any moves toward progress, don’t assume that they’re making promises they can’t keep. The reality is that many organizations just don’t know where to begin. This is where a women’s initiative can be critical in gauging the needs of the office, developing goals and objectives for the group and the organization overall. Every organization is different, so identifying ways to achieve gender equality will look different for each one. Rallying a force of women to make a plan is necessary to ensuring that your employees will actually recognize the progress within the organization, because it will speak to them specifically.
- You need an organized way to drive change within the organization. Once you know the needs and objectives of your employees, it’s time to get to work. (And let’s be honest, who is better at getting things done than a group of women?) Your women’s initiative members can tackle issues big and small—from a more comprehensive maternity/paternity policy to a more appropriate temperature setting in the office. Beyond these types of policy issues, women’s initiatives work to address cultural adjustments that may arise from gender bias. This list is long and requires awareness and investment from not only group members, but the company as a whole, to create a workplace where each person feels valued.
- Your company has a need for greater connection across employees across levels. If your organization is siloed across teams, departments, or levels with little interaction among employees, you may be able to make a dent in the issue with all-company social events or meetings. However, deeper relationships are built when employees are working together on a common task—especially ones they feel passionate about. Bringing women (and men!) together to advance their careers through gender equality can expose them to new people and new perspectives. This is especially important in organizations with little female leadership for lower-level employees to look up to or receive mentorship from. Even without a formal mentorship program, mixing more employees at different levels can create a culture of encouragement and professional development that drives each person to achieve their personal level of success.
With all of this comes higher satisfaction levels and retention across employees. Add to this the fact that more diverse companies actually perform better, the reasons for creating a women’s initiative can stand up to questioning from leadership teams that are focused on the bottom line. No matter what your company is up against, consider whether or not you could use a driving force for progress when it comes to gender equality at a policy and cultural level. In our opinion, the answer to “does my organization need a women’s initiative?” is almost always, yes!
Not sure if your company is in need of a women’s initiative? We’d love to dive in and ask the right questions with you. Reach out!