What can organisations do better to improve the working environment for women?

What can organisations do better to improve the working environment for women?

This was a question asked at the end of the The Marketing Society‘s webinar, ‘Wonder Women – what does the future hold for women in marketing?’ streamed from Singapore last week. Our response comes in two parts – firstly, our insights from the stories and interviews in the Wonder Women book, and secondly, the learnings we garnered from reading the brilliant book, The Other Half – Creating Gender Balanced Teams for Sustainable Success, written by Simona Scarpaleggia who was CEO of IKEA in Switzerland from 2010-2019 where she closed the gender pay gap – you can read the book review and watch a video explaining the 5 steps to a balanced workforce by following the link below:

The 4 Bs

At the end of the Wonder Women book we have a section on Insights & Thoughts on a Brave New World and our final paragraph talks about the 4 Bs, designed to help individuals and organisations contribute towards a better world:

Be aware of your unconscious bias; both men and women have been conditioned with deeply ingrained stereotypes – watch our for them and mind your language

Be generous in your support for women; mentor them, train them, promote them and encourage them to highlight their achievements, but don’t forget the men either

Be open-minded about career paths that don’t fit the norm; instead think about the benefits that squiggly careers bring.  Be a champion of gender diversity and shout about how you will profit as a result

Be brave – be willing to change yourself, be willing to encourage others to change, and be willing to drive change in your brand.

5 Steps to a Balanced Workforce

Simona Scarpaleggia talks about gender equality is a matter of human rights in her book, The Other Half. It is also a smart thing to do with massive business benefits.  Women are different and that is exactly why we need them in the workplace.  

Start with awareness at the top – leaders need to be aware of the business benefits, they need to commit to it, plan for it, implement and follow up.  Mean it, do it, measure it.

Broaden your horizons – do gender blind CV analysis, create gender balanced hiring teams – and you’ll find it much easier than you think to find good female candidates.

Be attractive to female candidates – even if the sector is believed to be not so suitable for women – sector biases can often be a myth

Create clear and easy policies – every time you need to promote or hire a person, you need first and foremost gender balanced short-lists

Reward according to market and performance – this is the smart way to get to equal pay, avoid percentage increase broadens the gender pay-gap.

Finally, Simona is clear that organisations need the give up the misconception that maternity is an obstacle.  Organisations need to create the conditions to support families with flexible hours, part-time jobs at all levels for both men and women, provide paternity leave and encourage men to take it, make the length of the working day as well as the length and time of meetings compatible with what parents need.  Read more about the book and watch the video of Simona talking about the 5 Steps via the link below.


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