March 8th is globally observed as International Women’s Day, a day to commemorate women’s cultural, social, economic, and political achievements. Today — more than a century after its inception — the U.S. dedicates the entire month to celebrating the impact women have had on our country’s history.
This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, is focused on erasing gender stereotypes and discrimination to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world where differences are not only valued, but celebrated.
As we reflect on the work that still needs to be done, we invited our own Phenoms to share videos and photos of themselves supporting the movement — each in their own unique way. Check out the video below, then continue reading to learn how Phenom and its customers are building inclusive communities for all women.
Where Women Stand Today
Two years ago, women had made notable advances on the road to equality, and the proverbial glass ceiling seemed to be cracking. Women held the majority of jobs in the workforce for the first time in almost a decade, and the number of women in senior leadership positions also grew.
But then the pandemic hit, reshaping the world as we knew it. And according to a Deloitte research study, 84% of women have taken the brunt of job related consequences.
As the main caregivers in most families, women have had to take on more responsibilities when school closings kept children home, adding full-time childcare and education to their careers. For many, juggling family and work responsibilities wasn’t a feasible option, and more than half of women in the workforce quit their jobs to care for their families.
Those who continued to work were left trying to balance home and work life, leading 1 in 4 women to consider a downshift in their career or leave the workforce altogether. The result? Women are once again faced with career setbacks, trying to find their footing in an uphill battle toward equality and inclusivity.
So, how can organizations help?
1. Provide Actionable Opportunities for Advancement
Companies are razor-focused on creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces for everyone (which should be commended). However, many related responsibilities such as supporting employee resource groups and recruiting employees from underrepresented groups have disproportionately fallen on women.
The kicker? For many women, these efforts have gone unrecognized and unrewarded — and too often, the work toward gender diversity doesn’t actually provide women with the tools and skills needed to move up the job ladder themselves. To be truly inclusive, organizations should provide opportunities for advancement and access to actionable trainings.
For Phenom customer SEI, a PA-based wealth management company committed to retaining and developing more female employees for leadership roles, the solution was to implement multiple development programs. One is focused on hiring, developing, and retaining female leaders; another prepares participants to move into senior positions within 5 to 15 years of tenure with the company. Their “Development Series” is designed to train female employees on skills that help them take charge of their career paths.
2. Offer Mentorship & Sponsorship
Empowering any employee who identifies as a woman by building a culture that fosters growth and development is essential in ensuring success, and a great way to add to that is by offering mentoring and sponsorship programs.
SEI provides both programs for their female workforce, where mentors provide career advice, while sponsors go up to bat for you.
Microsoft is another example of companies that are utilizing these programs successfully. Even their president, Deb Cupp, relies on her network for her continued success within the organization. A group of trusted colleagues she refers to as her “personal Board of Directors” provides guidance and feedback, helping her make decisions or simply acting as a sounding board. To pay it forward, Cupp is an ally for other female coworkers, offering encouragement when needed.
Having mentoring and sponsorship programs in the workplace not only supports employees through tough times, but also helps build employee confidence, leading to skill development and growth.
3. Promote Work-Life Balance
By providing more flexibility and being open to a hybrid work model, companies can retain top talent while allowing their female employees to balance their work-life schedules.
KinderCare Education, another Phenom customer, understands that in order to succeed, working parents need a different level of support from their employers. Their "one-size-fits-one" approach to the employee experience focuses on integrating work and life by creating opportunities for their employees to get together through walking groups, story time for children, and parent groups.
Phenom has also found ways to provide employees the flexibility and resources needed to feel supported through uncertain, stressful times. This January, Phenom announced a new benefit, offering all U.S.-based employees $1,000 toward their mental health. This added perk, along with continued schedule flexibility around families’ needs — furry members included! — makes a real difference for everybody.
True gender equality cannot be achieved until we recognize the covert — and overt — biases that exist in the workplace, then take action to deconstruct them. Join us this International Women’s Day and #BreakTheBias.