Breedlove's Briefing: 14 Characteristics of a Gender-equal Business Culture

April 29 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

14 Characteristics of a Gender-Equal Business Culture

Who it’s for:

Every working adult, at every level of business.

Why it’s important:

There’s a lot of “talk” about the difficult realities for women in business, but there has yet to be as much “walk” with solutions that we can actually try. One of my mantras is, “Don’t bring a problem unless you are also armed with a potential solution.”

This article walks the talk. You can be a part of progress by having the courage to bring these valuable ideas and actions to your management team. If you are a part of the management team, here is a roadmap to consider:

Many companies are implementing efforts to prevent gender discrimination. However, successful implementation requires more than a written policy. The Forbes Coaches Council has brought forth 14 methods for truly promoting a business culture of gender equality:

1. Salary and Bonus Transparency: Compensating fairly does more than just parrot popular phraseology; it puts your money where your mouth should be.

2. Diverse Mentoring Programs: Diversify mentoring programs to ensure that senior leadership is meaningfully engaged in promoting the advancement of women and other historically marginalized populations. Actions speak louder than words.

3. Addressing Equality Issues Head On: There is no substitute for addressing issues head on. When issues are ignored, there is an unconscious agreement for them to continue.

4. Working to Shift Mindsets: We can’t change culture without first shifting mindsets.

5. A Visible Commitment to Equality: If you want a culture of gender equality, then people need to see it in tangible ways. For example, track who does the talking in meetings. You may be surprised at how imbalanced “time of possession” can be along gender lines.

6. Alignment Between Promises and Actions: Promoting a culture of gender equality and actually living it can be two different things. Companies must hold themselves accountable for having more women in positions of power and authority.

7. Promotion Strategies for Women: The promotion structure for women in many organizations is not as robust as that of their male counterparts. If leaders are to embrace a culture of gender equality, they must embrace fair and equal promotion strategies.

8. Respect for Gender Identity and Pronouns: Don’t make assumptions. Ask your people what pronouns they prefer, and use them.

9. Men as Allies for Gender Parity: An organization promotes a culture of gender parity when the male leaders embrace and celebrate women’s success in ways that are visible to the entire organization.

10. Leaders Who Practice What They Preach: Be mindful of what you say and do, how you deal with the biased comments and actions of others, and what you are willing to accept as a social norm.

11. A Non-binary, Inclusive Environment: The world has changed from a male/female structure to a non-binary environment. Cultures that embrace a person’s right to be anywhere on the gender spectrum leap past the old-world firms that still struggle with male/female gender equality.

12. A Systemic Approach: Gender equality will become a part of the fabric of how the organization does business by expecting every part of the value chain to build systems, leadership practices, reward systems and metrics that align with the vision of gender equality. Create an ecosystem that says, “Equity is business.”

13. Appreciation of Individual Strengths and Contributions: Implementing a rule of engagement for appreciating others’ strengths and ability to contribute equals the playing field.

14. Written Policies: Written policies on gender equality make it possible for businesses to reinforce cultural practices with legal remedies attached. Culture change requires steady, visible actions from business owners.

Top Take-Away: Gender equality is simply smart business, and organizations that achieve it will reap the rewards. It should not be a taboo or sensitive topic, but one that spurs smart business strategy for quality change – just like any other business challenge.

A few more that ‘walk the talk’ on gender equality. Check them out:

Closing the Gender Gap: A Missed Opportunity for New CEOs

Gender Equality is Good for Business

Companies Can Immediately Overcome One Core Obstacle to Gender Equity in the Workplace

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