One of the many great things about International Women’s Day is that the buzz around March 8th often prompts leadership teams to do an equality audit of their business. This may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. At its simplest, it involves looking at the policies and practices within your organisation and identifying room for improvement.
It usually starts with gathering people from your team in one (physical or virtual) place and asking questions like, “Are we doing everything we can to foster equal access to opportunity?” and “How could we better support our female team members?”
Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof formula for gender equality in business. It’s up to each leadership team to figure out what their next steps should be. But I’m delighted to report that a performance management system like Frankli can help with some of them.
If you’re looking to introduce diversity, equity and inclusion policies that better support women on your team, here are some good places to start.
1. Survey your female team members
Don’t assume you know what’s best for your female team members. Instead take a more collaborative approach. This is easily done through Frankli’s Survey feature, which allows you to create anonymous surveys and send them to selected recipients for completion, gathering data on the efficacy of policies already in place, and insights into the issues your people are most interested in. Questions might include, “To what extent do you feel the company supports flexible working?” and “How happy are you with your opportunities for advancement?” Open-ended questions like, “What changes would you like to see made within the organisation?” can be helpful, too.
2. Accommodate flexible and remote working arrangements
High-performing teams know that focussing on outcomes, rather than hours logged at a desk, is the most efficient way to manage people. This, of course, is good news for women, who carry out a disproportionate share of unpaid caregiving duties, and, as a result, cite flexible working hours and remote working opportunities as crucial to their success and wellbeing at work (1). Frankli’s Goals feature helps leadership teams seamlessly track their people’s performance across hybrid, remote and/or in-office teams, so flexible working arrangements can be easily supported.
3. Set company-wide goals for diversity, equality and inclusion
Many leadership teams talk about introducing gender inclusive policies, but, for one reason or another, don’t get around to actually doing it. Through Frankli, you can set goals with measurable key results and realistic timelines, to ensure the work of gender inclusion actually gets done. Goals like, “Ensure 20% of Engineering team is female by 2024” and “Close the gender pay gap by the end of the year,” feel more achievable when you break them down into smaller tasks. Setting these goals to “public” within the organisation is a good idea, too - it lets your people know that you’re serious about tackling unconscious bias.
4. Connect team members for coaching and mentorship opportunities
The data is really clear on this one - women who receive professional coaching thrive at work (2). And for many women, mentorship programmes are vital to their success (3). Plus, a 2021 study found that, when female executives mentor men, it helps to remedy inequality at work (5). Frankli’s Coaching and Mentorship features invite people to put themselves forward for coaching and mentorship, or find a coach or mentor who can help them reach their goals faster. We recommend using our handy talking-point template to give these sessions structure, but, of course, you can also create your own.
5. Combat unconscious gender bias in performance reviews
It’s been well documented that negative gender stereotypes can creep into performance reviews (4), but there are a couple of things that HR teams can do to help make appraisals fairer. A Stanford Graduate School of Business study from 2020 (4) suggests combating gender bias by tying evaluations to performance. In Frankli, goals and key results are integrated with one-on-one meetings to make this really simple. The study also suggests providing reviewers with clear criteria for evaluating employees, which can be quickly done using Frankli’s performance review talking point templates.
6. Schedule regular career progression conversations with female team members
Countless studies have found that women aren’t short on ambition, they just require support to get to where they want to be (6). Frankli automates the process of holding regular one-on-one meetings with your people, so scheduling a yearly career progression catch-up with all of your female team members can be done in a couple of minutes. If you use Frankli’s “Focussed on Career” template, the talking points are taken care of, too.
7. Make successful women more visible in your organisation
Research tells us that, for women to succeed, they first need to see other women in the organisation thriving (7). This is where Frankli’s People Directory can be really useful. It not only allows people to see all of their colleagues at a glance, but it helps them learn more about their team members, connect over shared interests, and see some of the praise others have received in their roles.
8. Ensure women’s voices are heard at work
It’s been widely reported that women are interrupted more than men (8) and work meetings are no exception. Tackling the issue of conversational dominance can be tricky, but Frankli’s Feedback function can help level the playing field. Through this feature, people at all levels of your organisation can share ideas and feedback, and request feedback from managers and peers. Of course, we shouldn’t have to rely on alternative communication channels to ensure that women’s voices are heard, but until wider inequality issues are solved, it’s a helpful stopgap.
1. Gallup, “The Pandemic Hit Women Hard; Here's What Leaders Must Do Next” (04/03/22). 2. BetterUp, “Why women need a coach” (22/04/2021). 3. Harvard Business Review, “Don’t Just Mentor Women and People of Color. Sponsor Them.” (30/06/2021). 4. American Sociological Review, “Inside the Black Box of Organizational Life: The Gendered Language of Performance Assessment” (12/2020). 5. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law, ”Overcoming Gender Discrimination in Business: Reconsidering Mentoring in the Post #Me-Too and Covid-19 Eras” (19/11/2020). 6. McKinsey and Company, “The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United States” (07/04/2016). 7. McKinsey and Company, “Women in the Workplace 2021” (27/09/2021). 8. Forbes, “Gal Interrupted, Why Men Interrupt Women And How To Avert This In The Workplace” (01/03/2017).