How companies can better support women in the workforce
This article was written in collaboration with EY. Find out more about roles and opportunities available at EY by heading to the Opportunities tab of the Debut app.
It’s no secret that women have been rocking the metaphorical boat the last few years. Their voices can be heard from the hills of Hollywood to the streets of London, challenging outdated ideals and pushing for equality. But there’s one place in particular that is changing rapidly: our everyday working environments.
Global organisations such as EY are at the forefront of offering new ways to establish females as key figures within various industries. To understand a bit more, we bagged an exclusive interview with four ladies from across the company to get their opinions on the subject.
So come and take a look at what Jade Garner – Associate, Assurance Lynn Wilson – Assistant Director, Assurance, Karimah Campbell – eDiscovery Manager, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, and Tishina Tapfuamaneyi – Analyst, Transaction Advisory Services have to say on this matter.
Offer opportunities before day one
Companies have an opportunity to market themselves to new female talent before they even join the company, so it’s vital that they consider what opportunities are on offer to provide expansion and growth to potential female candidates.
Lynn states that what attracted her to EY in the first place was the company’s “ethics and support for personal development”, including their personal coaching and training programmes, allowing for workers to develop their own life skills, as well as work-specific ones.
Jade echoes this sentiment, highlighting how her own personal coach has “been an excellent source of support for whenever I am struggling or have any questions.” So it’s not just candidates who have to stand out – it’s vital that a business demonstrates they are forward thinking and pushing for change even before someone joins the company.
Promote female networks
In a lot of cases, it’s quite hard to find a comfortable time to bring up issues in the workplace regarding inequality of any kind – but gender-related disparity is particularly relevant in the current climate. This is why it’s so important for companies to shout about any support they provide to women both inside and outside the business.
Female networking events and groups provide a space for open and honest discussions to take place. Plus, it doesn’t matter what role you have in a company – anyone from any team is welcome to contribute their opinion. EY boasts several networks that focus on their female employees, including the EY Women’s Network, Women in Technology, the Women’s Leadership Network and more.
These networks also have an active online presence. Women. Fast Forward geared towards accelerating the achievement of gender parity, by motivating friends and colleagues about gender inclusivity.
Currently, they are running the campaign #PressForProgress, which was created for International Women’s Day. For this, EY hosted a panel discussion, posted a blog post from EY Global Chairman & CEO Mark A. Weinberger and distributed a short film on their website. The hashtag also encourages viewers to take up their own action for the campaign.
Jade is a member of the EY Women’s Network, and describes the scheme as “an excellent platform to both talk and hear about issues that women face in the workplace.” These networks also have more to offer than just a support group, as Jade continues to explain: “Events are held regularly and there are often talks from successful women in finance as well as other industries about the hurdles that they have had to overcome and how they have become so successful.”
Allow for flexibility
The women of today have a number of other factors in their life that they need to fit in around their career. Traditional 9-5 rigid hours can be stifling, which is why employees excel more if they are able to balance all the commitments in their lives and work when they are at their most productive.
Tishina claims that one of the biggest challenges for many is “balancing work life and family”, but flexible working at EY allows for this problem to be eradicated. Equally, this style of work can be useful to those with hobbies or side-hustles, as they will be able to enjoy what they want, when they want.
Flexibility also applies to management style, by embracing new ways of support and addressing issues. If this challenges old ways of thinking, then this may be the best way of improving a business, as Karimah states. “The more we are questioned, the more we will understand the need to be heard.”
Following the gender pay gap news stories, many leading financial companies have set milestones and deadlines in different lines of their businesses, holding line managers accountable to meet these targets. EY are also leading on this front, hosting a countdown to gender parity on their Women. Fast Forward page.
Embrace and celebrate achievements
Whilst it’s always great to be striving for growth, morale is one of the biggest motivators in any working environment. One of the best ways of keeping this high is by celebrating when a job is well done. It’s easy to overlook a project once it’s done and dusted, but those within a business shouldn’t forget to acknowledge the hard work that went into it.
Karimah shared that her proudest achievement stemmed from talking on a panel for EY, explaining “after the panel I was approached by two women, both stating that I had inspired them. Knowing that I am helping someone be the best they can be really makes me happy and motivates me.”
Prepare other women transitioning into work
This demonstrates how businesses can coordinate opportunities that facilitate the chance to celebrate achievements. Whether this is through blog posts that shine a spotlight on an individual’s success, or providing official recognition through award ceremonies.
Whilst of course it’s great to be helping those working today, companies should also focus on the female workforce of tomorrow, those who will be graduating in the next few years and may well become future female leaders. Our interviewee’s advice? Stay true to who you are, have confidence in your abilities and accept every new challenge that comes your way.
Or as Tishina puts it: “Don’t try and be someone you are not. Every person has a unique individual personality. Your ideas and your opinions matter – your idea could be the idea that dramatically improves the performance of your team.”