Engaging Women in the Workplace: It’s Good For Business!

On, March 8, people across the globe will gather to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).  Kellogg Company is embracing this year’s theme, “Press For Progress” and encouraging conversations across the globe to discuss the progress women have made, and facilitate open, honest conversations about challenges that still exist.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Kellogg’s business/employee resource group (B/ERG) Women of Kellogg (WOK), has invited me to address its global audience. WOK members and Kellogg employees across the globe will gather, and I am honored to share some of my research. As an expert on gender diversity in business, I know how important exposure to data and facts can be: without it, it can be difficult for people to consider the current state of important issues like women in the workplace or consider the road ahead.  While women have come quite far, there’s still a lot that each of us can do to Press For Progress in the workplace.

The most enlightened companies recognize the contributions women can make to their business and support their growth into becoming great leaders. The World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap Report predicts that gender parity is more than 200 years away—so in the spirit of starting a meaningful conversation today that can help close the gap on a better tomorrow, I wanted to share a few easy ways you can start engaging women in today’s workplace.

Four easy ways to drive gender equity in the workplace

1. Encourage flexibility. Employees today have different needs and demands on their time. Companies that offer flexibility, have more success retaining employees. Kellogg, for example allows its employees to work remotely when necessary, with its “Work Anywhere” policy. Many women I’ve surveyed say having a more flexible schedule reduces stress, so they can be more creative and engaged at work.

2. Provide meaningful benefits. More and more, employees and job seekers are looking for benefits—incentives that extend beyond traditional offerings like healthcare. Health insurance that includes family coverage, annual vacations, and if possible, subsidized day care are meaningful benefits. Many women tell me they’d rather have paid time off than a bonus. Some companies, for example, who may be located in a cold or harsh environment, embrace the benefit of seasonality, and offer employees perks like summer hours or half-day Fridays, allowing employees to enjoy the warmer weather.

3. Develop a mentorship or sponsorship program. Programs that provide guidance and role models for employees at every level are valued and appreciated. When companies invest in women, everyone gets ahead.

4. Champion Business Employee Resource Groups across the organization. Companies committed to creating employee resource groups – such as Women of Kellogg – encourage their employees to bring their whole selves to work. When employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work, everyone wins. The benefit to the business is undeniable and the connections employees build in these supportive environments are intangible.

The positive impact of gender diversity on the bottom line can’t be over-emphasized. Many companies have discovered that implementing simple, meaningful ideas like these help to attract and retain talented women in the workplace – and that’s a benefit for everyone in the organization!

*Note: Pamela Cohen is known for her expertise on the positive impact gender diversity has on a company’s financial success. She is also a social behavioral research scientist with an expertise in predicting human behavior.

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