Many best practices exist for creating organizations where women can advance. The ones listed below, from a variety of sources, are current, innovative, and comprehensive ideas that can act as a roadmap for what works:
- Implement sponsorship program—Enhance the quality of and access to sponsorship. Hold senior leaders accountable for achieving measurable targets for increasing the visibility and opportunities for advancement for white women and women and men of color.
- Eliminate bias in hiring, performance reviews, and promotions—Use gender-balanced panels and third-party review of performance feedback to screen for possible bias.
- Have a flexible life-work infrastructure—Provide and support the use of flexibility to balance work and family. Organizations often have flexible work policies but then discourage their use.
- Create accountability and share failure—Build accountability by setting targets and measurements. Hold leaders accountable through a reward system. Address implementation failure and policies that are in place but fail in their execution. Acknowledge and reward trial and error—one size does not fit all.
- Develop men as allies—Educate men on gender dynamics, double binds for women, and unconscious bias.
- Create immersion experiences for men—Challenge men to experience interruptions during team meetings, pay gaps, and other forms of gender discrimination to humanize the experience for them of the gender dynamics women often deal with.
- Listen to the needs of both women and men—Women and men often want similar workplace policies and practices that support family life but are reluctant to ask for them.
- Reduce the “only” dynamic—Increase the representation of women and people of color so no one is the only —— at the office.
- Diversify networking practices—Networking is different for women. Women need to build small, intentional, and diverse networks of other women, as well as a broad network that includes men. Men need only the broad network.
- Create an anti-harassment culture—Offer multiple avenues for reporting sexual harassment, ensure that no one will experience retribution for reporting harassment, and institute appropriate responses to findings of sexual harassment, including counseling for less severe offenses and firing for severe ones.
These best practice ideas are adapted from the following sources:
- “Closing the Gap: Leadership Perspectives on Promoting Women in Financial Services” from LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company, written in September 2018.
- “Women in Financial Services: Quick Take” from Catalyst, a research organization that focuses on workplaces that work for women, in May 21, 2019.
- “From Inclusion to Support: How to Build a Better Workplace” from the New York Times’s New Rules Summit on June 17, 2019.
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