Organizations must review their company culture and HR benefits to ensure there is support for women that includes and extends beyond PTO and health care.

The most recent study conducted by Women in the Workplace shows the past four years have reflected a rise in efforts to improve gender diversity in corporate America, but the data also shows large disparities between genders remain present. As a result, organizations must review their company culture and HR benefits to ensure there is support for women that includes and extends beyond PTO and health care. While it’s never too late to start, this is a perfect time for organizations to examine their offerings by looking into the following suggestions to help foster a fun, friendly, safe and enjoyable working environment for women.

1. Form Friendships And Encourage Mutual Support

Invite colleagues to start or join groups dedicated to helping them succeed in the workplace and in their personal lives. By forming lunch groups dedicated to mothers meeting quarterly or monthly, businesses offer a safe space for women to discuss balancing family and work, which yields a community of support and a network full of women with shared experiences in ways that affect their lives both personally and professionally. As organizations look to elevate women in their careers, offering access to regular seminars, trainings and mentorship opportunities will reach women at every level. These educational outlets will provide women with the knowledge, connections and resources needed to advance and revolutionize industries.

2. Unite Different Cultures

Forming culture clubs is also beneficial, especially for large organizations spanning multiple regions, since they ensure colleagues feel connected to their company regardless of location. This can be achieved by creating groups and clubs within a company to foster safe spaces that address the needs and backgrounds of employees. For organizations with offices spread around the world, it is important to ensure employees from each office are involved in the clubs and have a say in what it takes to establish a unified culture that will support employees and, ideally, result in company growth. By involving employees in projects where they will learn new things they might not have previously been exposed to, employees gain new insights about their teammates. Often, this teaches them valuable lessons that will serve them well throughout their careers.

3. Open The Lines Of Communication

Embrace technology and look for tools that make it easy for women to voice their concerns and share feedback. While it’s important to foster a workplace that allows open and free communication, the number of apps, websites and software available today provide organizations with digital options to find the right tools that work for their environment. To keep employees and their needs at the forefront, companies must weigh trends to find what best supports their company culture. One successful tool equipped with the ability to measure the levels of happiness and frustrations employees are feeling offers colleagues the chance to provide anonymous feedback, with the eventual goal of evolving the company’s culture into one where colleagues are comfortable providing honest feedback. Other similar platforms offer the ability to also measure the mood and engagement levels between colleagues. This helps promote the idea of “Your voice, your company,” thereby encouraging a safer, happier workforce.

Ways to Help Women Thrive in the Workplace

4. Raise Women’s Voices

A report from last year revealed women make up 23 percent of c-suite executive positions, which means highlighting the achievements of women is crucial to promoting female leadership within an organization. When men and women in executive positions use their influence to carve out spaces where women’s voices are not just heard, but amplified, advancement opportunities for women open up and lead to executive roles. By simply offering up a monthly leadership luncheon series, seeking out award opportunities, offering attendance to conferences and establishing female leadership groups within your organization, you are providing women in leadership positions with crucial opportunities to offer advice and speak to other women in the workplace about mobility. As one of the founding members of FeLeague, a female leadership group through livingHR, I mentor and support other women leaders. Events around FeLeague include holding monthly roundtables with executives and up-and-coming colleagues, happy hours, and reverse mentoring, so together, we are building a community of the interested, the interesting, and the influential. Whether your organization is investing in non-profits like Girls Who Code or seeking out educational opportunities for current employees, taking these steps shows your business is rewriting a narrative traditionally known to hold women back, especially in STEM fields.

5. Invest In Emotional Support

Employers who understand the importance of investing in mental health and offering resources to benefit their employees in and out of the office will not only affect employee health and the company’s productivity, it will boost the health of the community overall. Part of the job description of an HR department is to provide colleagues with outlets to aid in their emotional support and while it's true that people have huge struggles and daily battles with stress, anxiety and depression, more and more resources are becoming available to employers looking to help their teams. Utilize technology and implement platforms like Ginger.io, an emotional support application offering free 24/7 behavioral health coaching to each employee and one of the employee’s dependents. Tools like this provide assistance to colleagues who are dealing with everyday anxiety and stress they may not want to discuss internally, or to colleagues who may not have the budget and time to seek out the necessary help. Offering financial planning also addresses a huge source of stress for people, which goes to show the power of investing in the mental and emotional health of your colleagues as a huge driver in your company’s overall success.

Conclusion: Acknowledge And Nurture Women’s Talent

Women continue to break through glass ceilings in the tech space, moving into executive positions, leading teams and asserting their presence in the workplace, but the onus remains with employers to ensure the proper environment is in place to acknowledge and nurture women’s talent. By promoting female success through a network of support and by implementing platforms geared towards the overall improvement of colleagues, organizations are better equipped to succeed and seamlessly transition into the future.