Cultivating Female Support Systems at Work
3 minute read: How many movies have you seen with plots where women are pitted against each other? Far too many, we’re guessing.
Unfortunately, this competitive nature in females is constantly outlined in and encouraged by the media, having women constantly fighting each other to be on top, often with the men. But the reality is that this form of competition is unhealthy, not to mention it also breeds a number of issues in the business culture.
How do we get rid of this toxicity? How do we create a positive and healthy system at work for women?
1. Treat fellow female workers as allies, not competition
While there are those who insist that it’s a man’s world, we must not forget that the power actually lies in supporting one another. Research says that women climbing up the corporate leader tend to face more hurdles compared to men, one of them being unconscious bias. Forming close female connections would help to overcome that, building a network where you can share experiences and teach each other how to apply your talents into leadership skills, as well as learn how to ask for exactly what you’re worth.
2. Redefine workplace wellness
When it comes to workplace wellness, many company programmes often don’t take overall developmentand well-being into account, sometimes having a negative impact on workers. Wellness goes beyond physical health, as a lot of the time, women seek support in forms such as remote work, flexible schedules, female leadership training, and others. While this kind of change has to come from up top, female coworkers can share ideas with each other and their superiors as a start.
3. Ask for and provide each other with support in the workplace
When supervisors foster that survival-of-the-fittest working environment, it creates a toxic culture that promotes abuse and bullying. It’s not at all necessary to tear each other downto rise above. Actually, it’s possible to have healthy competition while still maintaining respect for one another. How? Champion each other’s successes. Bounce ideas off of one another. Ask each other for advice. Help each other when one is struggling. Those are just some of the few ways to promote a supportive office network.
4. Revisit policy to address gender inequalities
Although there is strength in numbers, there’s still much that needs to be done in the employer’s standpoint. Because women feel limited in terms of roles in a company, which is reflected in the lacking representation in upper management, employers need to create equal opportunities for all, women and men. Equal opportunities are presented via equal pay, leadership development for both genders, addressing unconscious bias, and paternity care. As long as women are seen as the primary caregivers, gender equality will always be a pipedream in the workplace. In short, equal opportunity simply means taking gender out of the equation.
5. Educate (not berate!) men on their unconscious bias
Contrary to the sexist mindset, having a supportive female network in the workplace does not mean only believing in the success of women. To support the women in a company, men need to stop treating women differently. If an opportunity presents itself where a male coworker or superior acts on behalf of unconscious bias, women can calmly explain why that puts them in a more difficult position. And as companies are continuing efforts in eradicating gender biases, women should continue to support and uplift one another, reminding everyone that a business is more successful when both men and women are seen and heard in the workplace.
An article by Annya Clovis
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