Professionals working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries are diligently trying to hire and retain talented women their companies. Offices, manufacturing plants, and factories, once designed by men for men, are being transformed into spaces more welcoming to women.
Multiple studies offer evidence of women being more creative and productive in settings where they feel safe, respected, and motivated. Google, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, and Apple are examples of companies that responded to this research and now are at the forefront of championing inclusion and workplace diversity as part of their overall talent management practice.
Executives who realize the benefits of having an inclusive and diverse workforce, are motivated to make changes to both company policies and the physical environment. Investing time and money into making engineering workplaces gender-neutral, and having women in all levels of leadership, is likely to give companies distinct competitive advantages.
Re-shaping an existing corporate culture into one that is committed to having a diverse staff is a complicated undertaking. A good first step is to consider implementing some of the following suggestions.Workplaces
Companies responsive to needs for safety, healthcare, and a balanced work-home life, are among those attracting top female talent. Taking appropriate measures to ensure that women feel safe is not only the right thing to do, but a smart business practice. Some ideas:
- Make sure walkways and parking structures are well-lit
- Have accessible bathrooms near workstations
- Provide healthcare benefits
- Provide paid maternity and adoption leave
Both men and women appreciate color and other artistic design elements. Researching color palettes and decorating styles, that men and women can enjoy, is one way to make everyone feel more comfortable in the work space. Additionally, companies can:
- Use gender neutral colors
- Provide comfortable furniture for workspaces and break areas
- Decorate with artwork and plants
- Have open space designs encouraging collaboration
To be productive and creative, employees must feel a sense of psychological safety. Companies need to guard against gender bias, sexist remarks, sexual harassment, and offensive imagery. In order to recruit and retain talented women, their workplace must be free of this antagonistic energy; some ways to do that are to:
- Avoid gender bias
- Do not tolerate sexist remarks or stereotypes
- Make sure images and pictures are work appropriate
- Develop and implement programs about sexual harassment
STEM industries are highly competitive and those companies striving to increase workforce diversity are realizing they must provide meaningful opportunities for women to advance and lead. Companies that do the following are likely to retain the best female talent:
- Provide diversity trainings
- Conduct programs, events, and training sessions about career paths
- Offer mentoring opportunities
- Offer flexible working arrangements
There are benefits to having women in leadership positions. These include: stronger financial performance, more collaboration, and increased innovation Ultimately, making work environments female friendly is more difficult than applying a new coat of paint or having a yearly training. Effective leaders must continue working diligently to change corporate culture by making workplaces more friendly to women but ultimately this creates a more positive work environment for both men and women.