Women in the Pacific are hardworking and innovative. They contribute heavily to their community as well as their country’s economy through business and entrepreneurial work. While the Pacific has made progress in gender equality over the years, we still have a long way to go. Women in the Pacific face significant challenges in their communities and even in the workplace and are still striving for gender inclusivity. In fact, according to an article by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade titled Pacific regional-empowering women and girls; across the Pacific the number of men in paid employment outgrow the number of women by approximately two to one, and earn 20 to 50 percent more than women. Certain reasons that contribute to women holding back is gender based violence, and a society that is deeply rooted in their traditions and a mindset that the role of women in the society is to take care of the household and continue the family generation by bearing children. But the Pacific society needs to grow out of this, women needs to be empowered and know that Yes they can work too! Yes, they can become a boat captain just like any other men! Yes, they can become a Chief executive officer if they want to! No, they shouldn’t be the only one cooking, or doing the house chores or minding the children.
Ways to Empower women in the Workplace
1.Give women a seat at the table
For many women in corporate companies, a seat at the table is a reflection of their hard work. Woman need to be allowed to express their opinions at board meetings. They need to feel that they are valued and that their voice does matter in board meetings. But before all of this, women need to be allowed to grow and also be allowed to move up the corporate ladder.
2. Encourage women to speak up
Women should not only be given a seat at the table. In corporate meetings, women are overlooked. Hence, when you bring a woman to the table make sure that she is also given a chance to be able to share her thoughts and ideas. If she does not volunteer, then direct a question at her so she feels included. In certain situations, when women do speak up ; nobody is listening. Hence, they need to be equipped with “communication tools” to be able to improve communication and influence action. If women are not given the opportunity to speak up, then the gap between and their employers will keep widening. Worse, frustrated and women who do not feel valued will end up leaving the workforce.
3. Set expectations and give feedback
Studies suggest that women receive less or no feedback in the workplace. But, giving feedback is important in helping women feel confident in the workplace. By identifying a female employees shortcomings, what works and what they can do differently, you can help women improve their skills. Competition in the workplace can affect relationship at work, thus, by supporting women in the workplace through positive feedback you help a woman grow and succeed.
4. Give opportunities to less experienced women
If you are a senior staff in your company with years of experience, you have an obligation to train and develop junior employees. Women need to be provided with opportunities that would help them gain more experience. Use your position to advocate for less experienced women to be included in new projects and be part of project teams. As they grow, endorse these women to your superiors and LinkedIn so they are able to get a raise, a promotion and a good reference. Helping a woman’s career grow can open doors that will get her a seat at the corporate table.
5 . Be Approachable
Women work better when they have trusted relationships in the workplace. You need to be approachable and put yourself in a position where a woman is able to approach you easily when they need help. You can build trust by being supportive and advocate for more opportunities for women to grow within their company. Try and help direct a woman towards her career path.
Additionally, try and have an open door policy whereby you are able to receive feedback from your employees about what works and what doesn’t.
Remember, empowered woman create powerful workplaces. Thus, we all play a role in helping women to grow in the workplace. Let’s all strive for a more gender equal society. Break the Bias.