Corporate cultures are adjusting to the unique needs of women in their workforce. More companies are creating flexible time off polices and maternity leave programs. As a result, women are more likely to stay longer at organizations with a culture that’s flexible to the demands of women who wear many hats. Now, organizations are looking to find ways to train, empower, develop and mentor women to be better prepared for advancement opportunities.
The blog today is all about four ways companies can empower and develop the women in their organizations.
Let’s start with the why. Why should an organization create initiatives that foster personal development for women?
Advanced education and on the job training can help employees learn important skills that will help them excel in their individual jobs, but if there isn’t a foundation of clarity, high performance and productivity then advancement and job development is actually stifled. A few months ago google released an article sharing that they’ve studied the trends, habits and effects of their personal development programs and discovered that soft skills were actually more valuable than job specific training.
Organizations do have very limited budgets. I have a couple suggestions on how they can still get started on this initiative. Two ideas here, first, allow 2 hours a week paid for personal development time. This can be spent in reading books (chosen or assigned by the organization), watching topic specific videos, etc. The second idea is to develop internal mentoring programs. Pair up senior level leadership with employees you want to develop for advancement and allow an hour a week for in person meetings to set goals, talk through job descriptions, etc.
What about the opposite side of the spectrum. What about the companies that are ready to take it to the next level and allocate budget for personal development. I have two ideas here as well. First, I recommend developing internal women’s groups. Many corporations, especially in technology companies have a “Women in Tech” group. They have budget for monthly lunch and learns where they can bring in outside speakers, discuss books, or even just connect women across various departments. Women who are part of these groups share a sense of belonging and connection. They also feel like they have a support group to cheer them on when advancement opportunities come.
For example, 38% of Women in tech jobs leave within 7 years, but THEY KEEP WORKING, but not in tech. They cite “culture and lack of connection” as their reason for leaving.
Second, I recommend carving out budget for outside training programs. We hear story after story of companies investing in women to get high performance leadership training and then come back and share what they’ve learned with others in the group. It can be VERY effective and helps to bring in expertise that may not exist in the organization.