In every industry, women have been consistently held back and overlooked for management positions. This tends to come from historical bias and built-in issues that pre-date more modern viewpoints, and can lead to serious issues when you are trying to diversify your staff. When looking to promote gender equality in retail, giving women management positions is definitely a way forward, and looking at how to help this can be stressful. These helpful tips should hopefully give you some idea of where to start.
It Starts at the Top
Are all management positions at your company held by men? Do you have a culture that has been built on men in leadership and an innate bias against women? These are things that need to be fixed before you take any further steps. If you have a culture that doesn’t support women in management then no women will ever reach management. This does not mean creating token roles; too many companies will have an all-male board of directors except for the head of personnel, leading to intrinsic biases about a woman’s capabilities.
No one is completely unbiased and sometimes we do it self-consciously, and a culture that encourages that thought pattern is dangerous. Acknowledge your own bias, even just to yourself, and work to be more open and honest about it.
Eliminate the Pay Gap
If you pay women less than men in your business for equivalent roles, you are contributing to one of the biggest issues facing women in all industries: the gender pay gap. Paying your employees fairly based on their experience is a key factor that must be implemented to truly create an equal environment.
Encourage the Women in Your Company
“So many times, I’ve hear stories of women missing out on an opportunity as they feel like they don’t deserve it or are unqualified,” laments Lisa Sisto, a retail writer for 1day2write and Writemyx. There’s a sad culture that has developed where women who put themselves or their ideas forward are seen as bossy or loud and so made to feel unwanted. Work with women to build their confidence and encourage them to go for opportunities that arise.
Provide Childcare Options and Flexible Hours
Women can miss out on management roles for being mothers in ways many men don’t miss out on for being fathers. There is deep cultural bias here that is slowly being chipped away, but taking steps to help provide childcare for workers is a good first step. Looking at creating a flexible working structure and providing maternity and paternity leave is the next big step and should not be a factor in whether or not someone gets a management role.
Anne Martin, business writer at Britstudent and Nextcoursework, cautions “If your company still has the antiquated question for women of whether they are planning to get pregnant any time soon, scrap it now. It’s irrelevant to the role and something that should not be factoring in to your decision making.”
Career Development Opportunities
Beyond simply encouraging women to go for roles, look at setting up mentoring programs, training, and certification opportunities to help women progress. Having someone mentoring you can be a great way to build confidence and create focus on a specific area you wish to improve on. Add to that certification and training opportunities and suddenly you have women who feel confident in their abilities and ready to push themselves forward for that next big role.
Be honest with your employees about cultural issues you are having and that you are trying to make steps to address these issues. This can be hard to do, especially if you fear backlash, but can actually lead to a more open and forgiving environment as you learn and grow. Discuss the issues the company is facing and implement real action to change these issues in order to create an environment of trust and make women feel more included in the decisions that will impact them. Don’t simply have a group of men making decisions they think are the right thing—get actual feedback.
In the end, the best ways to help women advance in retail management is to provide them with opportunities, work on the culture of the business, encourage them to take a leap, and listen when women explain their grievances. Taking that first step can be hard, but it will be worth it.
Michael Dehoyos is a writer for the Dissertation Writing Service and Case Study Help, and editor of Write My Literature Review and various other online publications focusing on marketing strategy and business development.