Four ways to empower women in the workplace

Drivers, Resource, Technology and Innovation

From a single mother turned technician to a 30-year army veteran, everyone’s story is different. Learn from some of our team members about ways to build up women in your workplace.

We invited team members from across our family of companies to share examples of supportive colleagues, inspiring role models, and the challenges they’ve faced as their career progressed. You can watch the event here.

Their conversation is full of actionable insights into what creates an inclusive culture. Listening to those voices is often the first step. If your organization is on that same journey, or maybe aspires to be but doesn’t know where to begin, here are four key takeaways from our panelists.

“Be a good teammate.” It’s important to start with the most actionable and accessible of these takeaways: being a good teammate. Don’t underestimate your own, personal role in creating an inclusive environment. Everyone has the power to uplift others, listen intently, and speak up when you see unfair treatment happen. Here’s what discrimination in the workplace might look like.

“The best teams are inclusive.” Looking back over her career in military intelligence, U.S. Xpress board member Jen Buckner noted the teams with the best results were those in which women and men worked together. Jen saw firsthand that teams with more women interrogators gathered more intel than those that didn’t.

The same is true outside the military. One study by Gartner and another by McKinsey found that inclusive teams outperform their less-inclusive counterparts by considerable margins. Teams that prioritize inclusivity are open to a wider and more capable talent pool, foster more trust, and create a culture of belonging. Healthy, functional, and committed teams are a natural byproduct of inclusivity. The takeaway: Assemble a diverse, inclusive team.

Avoid letting circumstances inform your perceptions. According to two panelists, being a single mother made finding work difficult, despite how much they needed it.

They aren’t alone — in 2018, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association found that “… 49% of women of color and 56% of white women felt that their colleagues’ perceptions of them changed after having children … 20% of women, evenly split between white women and women of color, reported that colleagues advised them to stay home or put their career on hold after having children — compared with only 5% of white men.”

Being a mother is hard enough, and being perceived as though you’re less capable than others because of your children isn’t fair or accurate. Combat this and don’t allow someone’s life stage to affect whether you hire, promote, or task them with certain jobs.

Empower role models. One of our panelists noted that her mistakes were evaluated differently. Pew Research Center notes that 23% of working women have been treated as less competent than their male peers. Avoid bolstering that stat by empowering capable women to lead. Focus on long-term inclusion efforts by promoting and supporting women in the workplace now, especially by placing them in leadership positions. This will help set up the next generation of talent for success. Women (and men) just starting their career won’t need to look far for professional inspiration, it’ll be right in front of their eyes.

We’re lucky this incredible group of women were open with us and shared their experiences. Their insight and vulnerability give us insight into what inclusive cultures look like. Remember that inclusion and diversity is a journey. And every organization is at a different stage in that journey. Keep these things in mind as you work to create a workplace that’s inclusive and welcoming to everyone.

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