Men speak out: Five ways to promote women in the workplace

05Mar
Blog

Men speak out: Five ways to promote women in the workplace

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By Peter Nicholson - CEO, EasyCare Academy | 2018 Cartier Awards Coach for Latin America

This article is part of a Special Series titled How to #PressForProgress in Women’s Entrepreneurship by the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. The series contributes to the #InternationalWomensDay dialogue on empowering women around the world through entrepreneurship.

The underlying structure of society is changing in ways we have never seen. While people are living longer than ever before, reproduction rates have fallen below the population-replacement level of 2.1. The consequence? Soon, the world will have more people over 65 than under 14. This translates into a shrinking labor force and a necessity to create an environment that supports the engagement of all workers. We simply cannot afford to discount anyone based on their personal characteristics, while ignoring their potential, their accomplishments, innovation and drive.

And yet, women today are routinely denied opportunities for advancement. They are under-represented in STEM curriculum in schools around the world and suffer from great disparities in pay.

As a son, brother, father, uncle and a CEO, I support, and demand, a world were women can engage and contribute in whatever way they want, without limitation. If we want to live better, as we live longer, we need to provide opportunities for women to make the meaningful contributions they are capable of and that we, as society, depend on.

So how, you might ask, can you start to have an impact? Turns out there is lots you can do, starting with today.

1. Pay people the same.
Equal pay for equal work. It’s not that hard. Set the pay level based on the position, rather than gender or any other characteristic society uses to marginalize people. A balanced pay policy will set the tone for merit as a basis of success, a strong message that everyone, including men, will hear and respect. Doing otherwise diminishes the sense of fair play in an organization. We shouldn’t kid ourselves and think that our employees don’t know or notice. They do.

2. Engage everyone, regardless of status or gender
We need to provide the space to allow people to find their voice. It doesn’t matter what level you may have reached or what job you may be doing – seek out and engage with everyone as you do your work. For those, men or women, who are less participatory, seek them out and actively ask for their opinion. We have to set an example by letting people know that everyone matters and no one is overlooked.

3. Promote your star performers
Everyone in an organization knows who the star performers are. If you pass them over based on gender, they (men included) may leave as they lose faith that their hard work will be rewarded. Not to mention that your ability to lead will be undermined. Supporting development and promotion of your performers and leaders is essential.

4. Build the best team, with a balance for gender and diversity
If we don’t have diversity, we miss out. Period. The world is far different today than it was a generation ago and even more so than it was two generations ago. With immigration at scale now the norm, everyone lives everywhere. There are fewer monolithic societies than ever before and we have to understand that if we want to build for success. The diversity of the company employee base should reflect the diversity of the markets we are trying to serve.

5. Include women as advisors
Seek out advisors who can help you gain the perspectives you lack and reinforce the values you want to convey. A Board of Directors is perhaps the most influential governance body in a company, and it’s important to get gender diversity right at this level as well. Get involved with groups that support women, give your time to the cause you care most about and lead by example. As leaders, we show people the way through our everyday actions. As the old proverb says, “actions speak louder than words.”

Implementing these changes in my own company has proven successful. Last year I quit my corporate job to create EasyCare Academy, a social impact company changing the future of aging. Across the company, we have sought best-in-class talent to fill our roles as the competitive nature of the market demands it. As I look at our company today, we are gender balanced at every level including the executive one. And we have benefited. We are a more rounded company, with input coming from a segment of our population – women – that is an active participant in the markets we serve and with important perspectives they contribute to our dialogue both inside the company and outside. We are more relevant in the world and better able to succeed…because of women.

Peter Nicholson

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Peter Nicholson is the Co-Founder, President & CEO of EasyCare Academy, a Geneva-headquartered public benefit company committed to enhancing health, independence and well-being of older adults. Previously he held global strategy and business development functions for several large publicly-traded healthcare companies and worked in applied research and product development for several small privately-held healthcare companies.
Follow him on LinkedIn.