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3 Ways to Keep Female Employees from Leaving Your Small Business

By: SmallBizClub


Ways to Keep Female Employees from Leaving Your Business

Earlier this year, Susan J. Fowler published her exposé, “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” sending Uber into some turmoil, and bringing the tech industry under scrutiny. For those unfamiliar, Fowler documented repeated cases of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Fowler’s account was followed by reports that Uber managers defended their company by telling a prospective employee that “sexism is systemic in tech,” and has prompted media outlets to verify that sexual harassment and gender discrimination is more widespread in the tech industry than you might think.

Unfortunately, gender discrimination isn’t contained solely within the tech industry. A recent report by Pew Research shows that, on average, women earn 17 percent less than male counterparts doing the same job. If there’s any good news, it’s that we’ve made advances as time has gone on, and that more startups and small businesses have begun embracing measures that promote gender equality in the workplace. Here are three ways that you can do the same.

1. Pay Them More

Ann Friedman, writing for The Cut, offers up “one weird trick for keeping female employees from quitting,” and she breaks it into three simple steps:

  1. Pay Women More
  2. Pay Women More
  3. Pay Women More

Yes, it’s meant to be a bit facetious, but Friedman’s approach, while jarring, is pertinent. “Pay us what you pay our male co-workers who do similar jobs,” she writes. “Pay us enough that if you were to accidentally email the entire office a spreadsheet containing everyone’s salary, you wouldn’t be ashamed. Pay us what you know we deserve, even if we haven’t demanded it. Pay us what we’ve earned.”

If you take a look at your spreadsheets and see a disparity in pay between genders, you should take steps to correct said disparity. In his article “All Things Being Equal: Gender Pay Gap Reporting,” David Barak writes about how the UK, Germany, and Australia are all establishing legislation requiring gender pay gap reporting. The hope is that by making more information concerning the gap public, companies will feel pressured into eliminating that gap altogether. Plus, “there is a tremendous opportunity here for progressive companies to establish their position as an employer of choice for the brightest and best employee talent in their market,” he writes.

2. Focus on Workplace Culture

Susan J. Fowler’s exposé was most effective at bringing to light workplace culture in the tech industry, as well as showing firsthand how the rampant sexism that pervades Silicon Valley is a major deterrent for female employees. It makes sense then, that if your company harbors a sexist workplace culture, women are probably going to leave!

Interestingly, it’s not just women who may decide to leave or stay based on sexist workplace culture. According to business author Cole Mayer, writing for Fiscal TIger, “in 2016, Millennials listed respectful treatment of all employees as their number one reason for job satisfaction.” This indicates the generations entering the workplace nowadays, whether male or female, demand equal opportunity and treatment for all employees. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that workplaces have been seeing enough of said treatment. “Job satisfaction was at 88 percent in 2011,” Mayer continues, “it has since declined to 45 percent.”

Fowler’s account shows that some companies simply aren’t taking gender equality as a serious part of their workplace strategy. Make sure that even if there are fewer women in your company than there are men, they aren’t treated as lesser.

3. Provide Opportunities for Advancement

Women want opportunities for advancement just as much as men do. In fact, a recent survey by LinkedIn queried over 4,000 women who had recently changed to companies why they were making the switch. The top three reasons that women are leaving your company are “concern for the lack of advancement opportunity,” followed by “dissatisfaction with senior leadership,” as well as “dissatisfaction with the work environment/culture.”

Show your female employees that they are valued by offering them the same types of advancement opportunities that you would offer men. Don’t assume that women want to slow down, have children, and focus on work-life balance. Leadership training classes and mentoring opportunities to advance more women to leadership roles could go a long way.

The more you actively focus on gender equality in the workplace, the fewer women will leave your company. As simple as it sounds, it’s taken companies a long time to pick up on this strategy. By focusing on paying men and women equally, providing opportunities for advancement in the workplace, and building a culture that isn’t hostile to anybody due to race or gender, you’ll see employee retention rise higher than you probably thought possible.

Author: Andy Heikkila is a business owner, writer, and musician hailing from the lush Pacific NW. He enjoys running, drinking, and hanging out with his friends when he’s not working. Feel free to drop him a message on Twitter @AndyO_TheHammer.

Published: June 1, 2017

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