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Despite advances made in recent years, there's still a large disparity between men and women when it comes to the professional working world. Unequal pay, sexual harassment and discrimination continue to be hot-button issues for females across the board, but the pandemic highlighted other unique challenges working women face.
A recent McKinsey & Company report states that 4 in 10 women have considered leaving their company or switching jobs. They're feeling burned out and pressured to juggle professional and caregiving responsibilities. On top of that, many feel undervalued or perpetually passed over for promotions. Women of color experience these feelings to an even greater extent.
To combat these issues, there are plenty of steps that businesses, employers and individuals can take to better support women in the workplace. Here are just a few ideas.
Patronize and promote women-owned businesses
An easy way to support women in the workplace is to actively buy from and endorse female-led businesses. The Women's Business Center of Utah has even developed the Utah Women-Owned Business Directory to help you do just that. And after you've purchased their product or service, don't forget to leave a glowing online review — especially on sites such as Yelp or Google.
Writing for LinkedIn, Joseph Mucira explains, "Now more than ever, it's important for businesses to get Google reviews. That's because customers want detailed first-hand information from their online peers — whom they trust."
Give women opportunities to speak
A 2014 study at George Washington University shed some light on why many women may feel hesitant to speak up or voice their opinions. The study found that men were 33% more likely to interrupt women than other men. You can show women in the workplace that their thoughts and perspectives matter by ensuring that they have ample opportunities to speak — without getting interrupted.
Be careful what you say
Whether you realize it or not, subtle, sexist comments and actions can easily creep into the workplace and negatively affect female employees. Failing to provide equal pay for both men and women or neglecting to consider women for promotions are good examples. But you'll also want to be careful about micro-aggressions — the little things you say that may feel harmless but are actually offensive. Something like calling a woman "sweetie" or asking her who watches the kids while she works are examples of sexism.
According to LeanIn.Org, 64% of women regularly experience micro-aggressions in the workplace. Women also typically have to provide more evidence of competence than men and are twice as likely to be mistaken for someone in a junior position. Be mindful of what you say — and when in doubt, say nothing.
Hold diversity and inclusion training
Not only is it a good idea for your organization to undergo diversity and inclusion training to help identify and eliminate some common workplace issues, but your company will thrive as a result. Deloitte's 2022 Women @ Work report found that among the surveyed women who worked for "gender equality leaders," none of them reported looking for a job with a different organization. Only 9% said they planned to leave their organization within two years and almost a quarter of them planned to stay for more than five years.
For ideas on how to implement an effective Diversity and Inclusion program at your organization, check out the Salt Lake Chamber's Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Training Series.
Attend the 2022 Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon
Finally, one of the best things you can do to support women in business is to attend the 46th Annual Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon this fall. This event serves as the primary fundraiser for the Women's Business Center of Utah and includes inspirational speakers who recognize the accomplishments of local leaders.
During the luncheon, the Salt Lake Chamber will present the ATHENA International Award to an active member who demonstrates creativity and initiative in business, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.
In addition to the ATHENA Award, the Chamber will also recognize six business and community leaders with the Pathfinder Award for their work to create new paths and promote the development and recognition of women in business.
Come learn valuable business insights to further your professional growth, foster relationships with other businesswomen in the community, and more. The 2022 Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon will be held on Nov. 14 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Grand America Hotel. Register today to save your spot!