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Review policies and processes to ensure they support women and are free from bias Human Resource policies such as those related to hiring and promotion are key processes which may inadvertently server as barrier to women’s advancement. A key recommendation for Human Resource teams is to review their policies and systems related to hiring and talent management to ensure it is free from bias. When making decisions such as selecting individuals for promotion or new hires, people tend to rely on a mental short list and neglect other possible options. However, using a broader list of names that have relevant qualifications may identify talent that might otherwise be overlooked. The very act of considering a larger variety of choices at the conscious level can promote more objective and ethical decisions.

Review talent management documentation to ensure that bias is neither overt nor covert. Due diligence on decisions made using talent documentation and selection (hiring) processes will help expose latent bias. For example, do men consistently receive higher ratings on technical competence criteria and women receive higher ratings on people management criteria? Re-evaluate the promotion and performance management processes and criteria used to guard against the possible effects of unconscious bias; design the process so as to minimize the influence of evaluators’ conscious or unconscious bias. . Provide effective dependent care leave and return to work practices Ensure that all employees have access to dependent care leave, on an annual basis. This includes maternity, paternity, childcare and all other forms of dependent care leave. For parents who are returning to work, organizations need to provide an approach that supports effective return to work. Specifically, organizations that want to effectively transition women back into the workforce should try to keep them engaged as possible during their time off.

Many women take an off-ramp at some point on their career highway. Nearly four in ten highly qualified women (37%) report that they have left work voluntarily at some point in their careers. Among women who have children, that statistic rises to 43%. Factors other than having children that pull women away from their jobs include the demands of caring for elderly parents or other family members (reported by 24%) and personal health issues (9%). One key way to do this is to provide mothers with paid Keeping in Touch Take a flexible approach to flexible work practices Flexible work practices include any changes to working times, working practices and leave arrangements, mutually agreed between employees and management, which accommodate both organizational needs and the family or lifestyle requirements of staff. Such practices allow organizations to respond to employee needs while continuing to meet business, continuous improvement and service delivery goals.

These practices also facilitate diversity, opportunity and equity in the workplace. Employees who are responsive, produce high quality work and solid measurable business results flourish in organizations that have invested in resources that help employees work to their full potential. Research by CEB found that the number one initiative that women believe will help them advance at work is access to flexible work practices. However, the impact of these practices are often underestimated by male leaders.

The goal for all organizations is to fit work into an employee’s lives, not the other way around. The challenge is to recreate work requirements and expectations so that individuals’ actual performance and contribution is more highly valued than the number of hours worked. Restructuring time requirements would be beneficial to both men and women; 73% of male Fortune 500 executives believe that their jobs can be restructured to make them more productive and provide more time for activities outside of work. To achieve the benefits of flexible workplace practices requires organizations take a flexible approach to flexible work practices. Organizational policies should promote and support work-life integration.

However, these benefits can only be achieved where there is mutual cooperation, commitment to change and the development of a plan betweenthe employer and the employee. A flexible approach to flexible work practices is where leaders not only role model flexibility but they play a crucial role in the success of any individual’s flexible work plan. This requires that managers are given training on how to have discussions to tailor solutions for each individual rather than taking a one size fits all approach is crucial to realizing the positive outcomes associated with flexible work practices. Enable men to become champions for change According to the research firm, Catalyst men have a critical role to play in diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, including advancing gender diversity in the workplace. Creating a fairer and more inclusive work environment where everyone is valued will require the involvement and support of many people at many levels, including men. Organizations should help men recognize that gender bias exists, motivate them to champion gender equality, and remove the barriers that prevent their support. Research has found that education through well-managed training can increase men’s sense of fair play. In addition to training, organizations can foster change through workshops, mentoring, and publicizing male advocates for womens advancement. Key examples include: o Make gender visible. Bring men into the discussion. For many men, gender is something they see as a ‘woman’s issue’. Until men recognize that they face issues particular to their own gender, and that it is important to address them, gender equality will not be achieved. o Create space for discussions about men’s issues at work. Men need space, both culturally and literally, to discuss issues particular to their gender. Often men will not discuss issues that are affecting them openly, such as difficulty accessing flexible work.

They may even be reticent to talk about their flexible working arrangements - if they have them. Men need to feel ‘Safe to Speak Up’ for gender equality. Employers can address this by creating work cultures and programs that encourage men to openly discuss issues they face in the workplace. o Engage men as stakeholders. Many organizations are taking great steps to improve gender equality in their workplace. However, until employers see the men in their organization as a key stakeholder group who should be engaged when creating change, gender equality will always be a one-sided journey. Engaging men as stakeholder’s means consulting with them on solutions to advance women in organizations. 22 (KIT) days. These are between 10 to 5 days that can be taken by an employee during their leave. This gives employee the opportunity to come into the office clear emails, attend meetings, engage with colleagues and transition back into doing actual work In addition, organizations that are truly committed to supporting women with maternity leave also offer maternity coaching to high potential females.

A study conducted by Ernst & Young in 2011 found that 90 % of their workforce would return after maternity leave and then up to 20% of these employees would leave the firm within 2 years of returning to work. By implementing maternity coaching as part of their employee benefits they managed to increase women returning to work after maternity leave by 5% to 95%.

Maintaining relationships with UN Women individuals, particularly females who have temporarily left the organization due to family responsibilities, can convey the message that returning to work at UN Women is possible. This will make it more likely that female managers return to the organization if they decide to return to work, and ease their transition when they do.

 

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Michelle King