This year’s theme for International Women’s Day celebration is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” This theme is a reminder that gender equality is important not only in society but also in professional circles.

Here are three ways to support and empower women in the workplace.

Equal pay

Today women need to work for more than 39 additional days each year just to catch up to the earnings of their male counterparts. Women are paid almost $10,000 less than men in their average median annual earnings in the U.S. alone.

Gender Pay Gap
Source: Payscale.com

What can leaders do?
While there is no silver bullet to cure this workplace problem, leaders can take a few bold steps to minimize — and eventually eliminate — the gender pay gap. Here are a few ideas you can apply in your organization:

  • Conduct a wage audit to identify the pay gap between the two genders.
  • Introduce and standardize fair pay policies to include everyone without bias.
  • Implement a salary transparency policy (Some companies are already doing it).

Equal career opportunities

A Pew Research report published in 2017 found that 42% of women go through some form of gender discrimination in the workplace compared to only 22% of men. In another study that the Pew research team conducted, they found that only 4.8% of Fortune 500 have women CEOs.

Needless to say, policy and organizations have to change. Opportunity is not for one gender and not the other, its a fundamental right of all those who are willing to put in the work hard to achieve their career goals and should not be limited in their endeavors.

What can leaders do?

  • Provide opportunities for women in leadership positions so that they become role models for up and coming women in the workforce
  • Mentoring ambitious female employees to achieve their full career potential.
  • Create a supportive environment for women to voice out their career-related concerns.

Women-friendly policies

More and more women are joining the workforce in pursuit of supporting their households and actively contributing to the growth of the global economy. There is a definitive momentum for women empowerment, but it’s still far from perfect. The biases against women professionals are major forces that are stopping women from reaching their true potential. These concerns include supportive policies around women’s physical and mental health, and maternity leave — among many others. Organizations need to work with their employees to provide support based on each person’s needs across the workforce

What can leaders do?

  • Work with your human resources team to build policies that address all matters that affect your entire workforce
  • Support recruiting and training programs for women
  • Train manager to manage a flexible workforce

On March 8th, I’m proud to say that I will be celebrating how far we have come in empowering women by working together to create an equal opportunity workplace that the next generation will enjoy to its full potential.

Elizabeth Sedlacek