You’ve landed that interview at your dream company, but hold on: you head in for your interview and don’t see a single woman in the office. Or during your interview, the (male) interviewer asks you about your relationship status and if you’re planning on having children. And while these are obvious signs that this company isn’t pro-women and doesn’t have active diversity and inclusion policies and practices in place, some other signs may be more subtle. How can you avoid joining a company that doesn’t work to promote their female employees? Let’s discuss.
Why are Pro-Women Companies Important?
Apart from the obvious ethical and moral obligation to promote equality and fair opportunities, women are incredible assets to any workplace. Unsure why? We have some facts and figures to convince you:
Companies with high levels of gender diversity and inclusion are 25% more likely to have higher levels of profitability.
Women bring valuable and different perspectives to the table to which men simply can’t relate.
Research also shows that women in management positions boast better communication skills and overall leadership skills than male counterparts.
On a purely statistical level, women have proven to be more loyal to their companies, creating a lower turnover rate and more company loyalty which then improves their performance.
Companies that boast gender diversity are more likely to attract new and talented candidates; in addition, women are more likely to apply to companies that already have lots of female employees and possible mentors.
If these points aren’t enough, we’ll leave you with one final sentence: success is impossible without equality. Women bring invaluable skills to the workplace and providing them with the same opportunities and chances to grow as men is the right thing to do.
All companies switch their logos to purple during March and highlight a few female employees, but does that make them truly pro-women? Not really. Change comes from consistent actions that are researched, put into place, and then evaluated over time and when a company is truly pro-women, you’ll see that their actions are not just surface-level.
Companies that support women want women to succeed…
Every company will claim they want the best for their female employees, but do they actually mean it? Here are some concrete actions that show a company’s is truly dedicated to the success of their female employees:
Commitment to equal pay: the gender pay gap is real, especially within the tech industry. Companies that are committed to equal pay are transparent with their salaries and pay men and women of the same job equally.
Low female turnover: companies that are having women quit frequently probably aren’t treating them right. When interviewing, ask the company about their female employees and how long they’ve been at the company.
…have women in leadership roles…
We’ve all seen those pictures of all-male leadership boards and thought: “where are all the women?” Lots of companies simply don’t prioritize women in leadership positions and this not only affects equality and female opportunities for growth, but also expands the gender wage gap. And it’s essential that it’s not just C-suite and executive level; women should hold manager and supervisor positions as well.
…boast programs & benefits for women…
Another great way to see if a company truly supports their female employees is by checking what benefits and programs they offer. There are issues that women alone face and offering generous maternity leave, menstrual pain sick days, and mentorship opportunities geared specifically towards making it easier for women to succeed in the workplace are all great signs that a company is working towards equality.
…have accountability programs in place.
All of the aforementioned points are great ways to check if a company is pro-women, but there is another measure that’s equally as important: accountability programs. Does your company have a plan in place to report sexual harassment or sexism in the workplace? When reported, are women heard, believed, and supported? These are all signs that the company is equipped to create an inclusive workplace.
Questions to ask prospective employers
If all the above seem to be in place but you still want to be completely positive, here are a few quick questions you can ask to be sure of it:
Does your company have mandatory diversity and inclusion training? Company policies are great, but if the employees don’t practice or enforce them, they’re useless. If a company offers required diversity and inclusion training, it’s a good first sign that they want their employees to put their policies into action.
How many women work in the company and your prospective department? Companies that publish their gender distribution might come off better than it actually is; if you’re heading into tech, for example, the sad truth is that most women hold administrative or assistance positions instead of tech-related roles. And companies may benefit from showing their gender distribution overall, instead of in specific departments. Make sure you know exactly what your future department will look like.
What is the gender distribution of the leadership team/management roles? Knowing exactly how many women hold leadership positions can help you both picture how you can move up within the company and the role models/mentors you’ll have available to you.
Warning Signs That Your Company Isn’t Pro-Women
If you’ve already accepted a job and have started working, keep an eye out for some of these telltale signs that your company isn’t as pro-women as they made themselves out to be:
Female voices are not heard/appreciated: is the input of women in meetings ignored or shrugged off? Or are men frequently cutting women off, talking over them, or just being disrespectful? These are signs that company employees are not focused on lifting women up and providing them with equal opportunities.
Men get promotions over women: are women missing out on promotions to men frequently with no good reason given? This is a clear sign that your company’s actions don’t match their words.
Women’s life choices are mentioned in relation to their ability to work: an unfortunate but true fact of society is that unpaid domestic duties, like housework, childcare, and family care are typically placed on women. If a woman’s decision to have children or take time off to care for her children is mentioned in relation to her performance, your company has a long way to go to be pro-women.
And if the above points feel a bit familiar, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. Standing up to adversity can be intimidating and even seem impossible, but taking a stand against injustice is the right thing to do. If you’ve witnessed any of the aforementioned warning sides at your workplace, it might be time to talk to HR or corporate to try to make a change. And if you don’t feel safe or confident speaking to people at work about the issues or don’t know how to approach it, try reaching out to female connections within your network for advice.
What YOU Can Do to Make Your Company Pro-Women
Just like with anything, your actions count and everything you do to improve equality at your company will have a positive effect on the company as a whole and future employees:
Lift women up: become a mentor to younger women and look for ways to support the ideas of your female coworkers, promote their ideas in meetings, and call out sexist behavior when you see it.
Believe women: if a female coworker comes to you with harassment allegations, believe them and help create a safe and inclusive workplace for all.
Promote transparency: talk openly about salary, benefits, and other ways that women are frequently undercompensated and ensure that no one is in the dark about what they’re being paid.
At Ironhack, we’re proud to promote flexible and inclusive courses, in addition to being a diverse workplace, to help women achieve their goals, no matter their situation. If you’re interested in becoming part of the Ironhack family and joining us on our journey towards equality, check out our available programs today.