Maybe you’ve just come across a sexual harassment problem in your HR department, and it was all handled so badly that it ended up as an office-wide scandal with resignations left and right. Maybe you’re a female business leader, and after having faced discrimination too many times while working in online business, you want to make the office a more progressive place for both male and female employees. Or maybe you have no reason at all other than the fact that it’s 2018 and feminism is something you want to fight for in every aspect of your life, including business.
Whatever your reason for wanting to become a more feminist business leader, there are some great strategies you can start implementing today. Whether it’s the side business you’re running or a Fortune 500 company, here are some ways to become more feminist now:
1. Make your office a safe space for communication
First of all, when it comes to problems women are facing in the workplace–whether it’s sexual harassment or challenges associated with taking maternity leave–it’s important to make sure they feel like they’re being heard. Even with the trending #MeToo movement, many women’s claims are being questioned, which is not a huge surprise considering that, according to Vox, 75 percent of workplace harassment victims experienced retaliation when they spoke up.
So you’ll already be making a huge step forward if you allow your female employees to come to you with any problem, and demonstrate that you’ll be supportive. It’s also a good idea to revamp your HR department if you’re a larger company and spread the word via an email to all staff.
2. Teach your staff about feminist behavior
One of the biggest problems in offices today is that oftentimes we don’t even realize that we’re creating problems that affect people of the gender that makes up 49.6 percent of the world’s population. Whether it’s accidentally talking over a co-worker in a meeting, or subconsciously replying to a male colleague’s email much faster (and with a more respectful tone) than to a female colleague’s, it’s important to keep our behaviors in check, however innocent they may seem.
A great idea is to invite female colleagues to submit, anonymously, times when they experienced discrimination at work. If your office is a small one, then they can come up with experiences from before they joined your team–and then they can explain to everyone in the office how they would have prepared that situation to be handled. To further illustrate your points, feel free to use some undeniable evidence of unintended sexism from The Huffington Post.
3. Hire more women–and promote them, too
Think you’re already a feminist when it comes to your hiring practices? You may want to take a second look, because placing one woman on a panel or in a business meeting looks like feminism when it actually isn’t. This is called tokenism, as coined by Harvard academic Rosabeth Moss Kanter, which basically means including someone in a group to make it seem like you’re inclusive. But it’s a symbolic gesture, not a meaningful one.
Instead, make an actual effort to hire more women. Some ways to do this, according to The Muse, include offering truly flexible schedules, putting women in leadership positions, offering paternity leave, excising sexism from the workplace, and empowering female employees in the workplace. And, of course, promote women when they deserve it (even if you foresee them having kids in the next few years), and pay them equally to beat the fact that the median US woman makes 79 cents for every dollar paid to a man. This is what really makes feminist dreams come true.
4. Spread the word
Finally, take advantage of the fact that everyone’s addicted to Facebook and Instagram, spending an average of 5 hours a day on their phones, and spread the word about these changes you’re making in your company. Especially if you’ve got a big online following, and lots of connections with influencers and companies like your own, it’s a way to encourage people more and more to follow feminist policies.
Because by demonstrating that success in the business world and feminism can go hand in hand, you’re going to lead by example, and others will be inspired to do what you’re doing. And by showing your process and results, they’ll know exactly how to get to where you are.
The fact is, there are many opportunities for any business to become more feminist–it’s all about knowing what strategies work and implementing them seriously, with a long-term commitment to seeing results. At the end of this process, you’ll have a more inclusive, open, and “woke” office, which is exactly what consumers will expect as the world becomes more progressive.
How have you been implementing strategies in the workplace to make it more feminist?