Article Thought Leadership

Empowering Women at Work.
A Conversation With Gretchen Carlson

Discover effective ways to empower women in your team with insights from Gretchen Carlson. Learn the dos and don'ts of supporting female colleagues, whether in person or virtually.
Read time: 6 min
Published: Mar 2023

As the world celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, teams and leaders around the world continue to ponder how to lift women up within the business ecosystem and ensure that they have a seat at the table.  Jugo was proud to host international women’s advocate, and co-founder of Lift our voices Gretchen Carlson for a company event to raise awareness around supporting women in the workforce.

In recent years, the calls to dismantle gender discrimination and empower women in the workforce has been getting louder. Women make up a significant proportion of the workforce, but they are still underrepresented in leadership positions and face a range of challenges in the workplace.

For example, 7 in 10 people believe their companies do not take sexual harassment seriously, and workplace sexual harassment costs an average of $2.6 billion in lost productivity or $1,053 per victim per year in the US. When doing an internal poll, the audience was asked how many of them have experienced sexual harassment throughout their career. 55% of the audience had said that they had. Interestingly, Carlson noted that 55% was below the world average.

Therefore, making work safe, and equitable for women is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.

Throughout the session Gretchen talked about personal experiences, and how that led to landmark legislation for workplace safety, and many questions were raised about how to build a more inclusive workplace that empowers women to succeed.

Promote Diversity and Inclusion

One of the most effective ways to empower women at work is to promote diversity and inclusion. A diverse workforce brings people from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. When companies promote diversity and inclusion, they create a culture that values and respects differences. This can lead to better decision making, increased innovation, and improved business outcomes.

During the session, Carlson concluded that research shows people who are truly progressive and open minded, and transparent tend to hire people like that, which is a great step towards building a diverse and inclusive team.

It’s not just about culture, a recent McKinsey report reveals that promoting DE&I initiatives within the workplace, businesses are better off in terms of higher engagement, and reduced attrition.

Provide opportunities for development and advancement

Another way to empower women at work is to provide opportunities for development and advancement. Women often face barriers to career advancement, including unconscious bias, lack of mentorship, and a lack of access to key networks. Providing women with training and development opportunities, as well as access to mentors and networks, can help dismantle barriers and enable women to reach their full potential.

During the event, Carlson highlighted that banding together in the workplace is essential for development and advancement.

“One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world.”
Gretchen Carlson, Co-Founder, Lift Our Voices

Create a flexible work environment

A flexible work environment can also be an effective way to empower women at work. Women often face competing demands on their time, including family responsibilities, caregiving, and community engagement. Studies show that Women with children now spend an average 65 hours a week on the unpaid chores – nearly a third more than fathers. A flexible work environment that allows for remote work and flexible work can help women balance these demands and achieve greater work-life balance.

As Jugo mentions in a previous blog article, flexibility has helped drive women empowerment. Not only is it easier for women and parents to do the school run, but women now have a better balance between home and work life.

Jugo’s customer success manager, Chelsea Bethancourt asked Carlson what she thought about the impact of remote and hybrid work on women. While it may seem that because physical interaction is limited, then harassment by default would go down, however Carlson pointed out that cases of sexual harassment and conduct went up. She noted that this wasn’t due to the environment specifically, but that the harassment is more covert and hidden.

Whilst working from home offered flexibility, Carlson was concerned that when working in the virtual there can also be a greater separation of power because only women ultimately stay home, whereas men are seen in the office as being more active, and so the role of the woman is then diminished.

Address unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias can be a significant barrier to empowering women at work. Bias can manifest in subtle ways such as assumptions about women’s capabilities, expectations about their behaviour, and judgments about their appearance. Companies can address unconscious bias by providing training to employees, promoting awareness, and understanding, and establishing policies and practices that promote equity and fairness.

During Jugo’s conversation with Carlson, Carlson spoke about courage and advocating for policy change which is pivotal to combatting unconscious bias – a key factor she stressed is talking about issues openly and loudly to educate and empower women and allies. Marketing executive Thomas Langley-Berry, asked Carlson what he can do as a man in a junior position with no power? She encouraged allyship and loud support.

Carlson stated that allyship is important because you can band together with other colleagues and ask your HR teams whether they silence their teams if they speak out. You can certainly be a part of opening the dialogue. You should look at your contracts and see if you will be silenced. The movement is not going away so she would advocate having conversations with your higher ups and asking them if they silence their people. Carlson believes that allyship is the silver bullet to equity and companies should allow people to have free conversations about their working environments.

How can you back women up at work and ensure that they have a seat at the table?

Carlson highlighted that backing woman up in the workplace is critical in the battle of equity. Gretchen highlighted that unconscious bias is systemic and within Fortune 500 companies less than 10% of women were in positions of power.

Due to unconscious bias, men are stereotypically seen as more authoritative. They are seen as the ones with the right answers, and they are the ones to again, stereotypically, take the lead.
So, something as simple as banding together and being allies to women, supporting them in the workplace, and backing them up when they already have a seat at the table, can empower and encourage the work that they are doing which in turn will help them professionally grow and ensure that others have a seat at the table too.

Celebrate Success and Acknowledge Achievements

Finally, celebrating success and acknowledging achievements can be an effective way to empower women at work. Women often face a range of challenges and obstacles in the workplace, and it’s important to recognize their achievements and contributions. Celebrating success can help to build confidence, promote a sense of belonging, and encourage men to continue to strive for success.
Empowering women at work is critical for building a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace.

By promoting diversity and inclusion, providing opportunities for development and advancement, creating a flexible work environment, addressing unconscious bias, and celebrating success, companies can create a workplace that empowers women to succeed.

To conclude, empowering women in the workplace is business smart. Not only do you drive your diversity and inclusion initiatives, but you also can create a better culture where employees feel safe, valued, and cared for.

As studies have shown, working in the virtual can help create a safer space for women. This is where Jugo helps to deliver DE&I initiatives and helps to empower women and those who identify as women in the workplace.

Part of Jugo’s mission is to liberate and empower women and people in general by bringing freedom and choice to what people do and how they make an impact, in Jugo and beyond.

We are proud to spotlight and support the work of organizations, like lift our voices, who are dedicated to creating a more equitable working environment.

Want to find out how Jugo can empower your teams and help create a more equitable working environment? Book a demo with us now.

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